(Washington, DC--February 26, 2005) Russian-language programs of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) will be broadcast 18 hours daily on Radio Baltika, a local UKV ("Eastern-Band FM," 66 to 74 MHz) station in St. Petersburg, Russia, beginning March 1, 2005.
The unprecedented availability of U.S.-sponsored radio programming in Russia's second-largest media market comes as the result of an agreement signed today in St. Petersburg by D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, a member of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, and by Oleg Rudnov, founder and general director of Radio Baltika. The agreement is part of RFE/RL's effort to expand audiences in Russia through a revamped national schedule that includes new live and interactive programming and improved local distribution.
The programs will be available from 0600 to 2359 local time throughout the greater St. Petersburg region, with a population of 14 million, on 71.24 MHz UKV. Until now, just two hours of RFE/RL programs were broadcast daily by Radio Baltika, and programs also were available on a St. Petersburg AM station. Research shows that Russians prefer FM and UKV radio for news and information; AM is less popular. RFE/RL broadcasts on AM in Moscow and for a limited number of hours daily on AM, FM and UKV in 22 other Russian cities.
"We are pleased that Russian authorities permitted Radio Baltika to amend its license so that Radio Liberty programs will be heard on UKV in Russia's second-largest city," said Hirschberg. "We hope that this is a first step by the authorities to allow Radio Liberty to enhance its local broadcasting throughout Russia, including access to an FM frequency in Moscow."
Radio Baltika has carried some RFE/RL programming since 1992, longer than any domestic radio station in Russia.
RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine added that "I am especially pleased that these programs are being carried by Radio Baltika, RFE/RL's oldest broadcasting partner in Russia. We are gratified to have the opportunity to expand this valuable relationship."
RFE/RL's Russian Service broadcasts are on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with programs produced in Prague and the service's Moscow, St. Petersburg and Ekaterinburg Bureaus and transmitted to listeners via shortwave, satellite and AM, FM and UKV signals provided by local affiliate stations in Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Ukraine. Russian Service programming is also available via the Internet, at the service's website www.svoboda.org and at www.rferl.org.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors is a nine-member, presidentially appointed body which supervises all U.S. government-supported international broadcasting, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Martí, the Middle East Television Network (Al Hurra), Radio Sawa, and Radio Farda. The services broadcast in 55 languages to over 100 million people around the world. Current governors include Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Chairman; Joaquin F. Blaya; Blanquita Walsh Cullum; D. Jeffrey Hirschberg; Edward E. Kaufman; Norman J. Pattiz; Steven J. Simmons; and Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, who serves as an ex officio member.