BBC World Service taken off air by Russian authorities

The BBC World Service is no longer to be available in Russia on FM following a ruling from the country’s licensing authority.

The World Service has been informed by the owners of Bolshoye Radio that BBC programming in Russian will no longer be broadcast on the station, as of this afternoon.

This was the BBC Russian Service’s last FM distribution partner station in Russia. It follows two other FM partner stations ceasing to take BBC programmes over the last nine months.

The owners of Bolshoye Radio, financial group Finam, have said they are required to remove BBC programming at the request of Russian licensing authorities, or risk the station being taken off air.

Richard Sambrook, Director BBC Global News said: ‘We are extremely disappointed that listeners to Bolshoye Radio in Moscow will be unable to listen to our impartial and independent news and information programming in the high quality audibility of FM.

‘The BBC has invested a great deal of energy and resources into developing high quality programming for the station. The BBC has similar broadcasting arrangements with partner stations around the world. Our services are available on FM in over 150 capital cities – some 75 per cent of the global total.

He continued: ‘The BBC entered into the relationship with Bolshoye Radio in good faith, and the licence was won in a competitive tender in February 2006. We cannot understand how the licence is now interpreted in a way that does not reflect the original and thorough concept documents.

‘We are appealing to Russia’s Federal Service for the Supervision of Mass Media, Communication and Protection of Cultural Heritage. We will ask for the decision to be reviewed and for the original concept of the station to be respected.”

BBC Russian programmes continue to be audio streamed online at bbcrussian.com.

They are also broadcast on the following medium wave frequencies: St Petersberg – 1260 MW, Moscow – 1260 MW and Ekaterinburg – 666 MW. They are also available direct to home through New Day channel on NTV+ satellite, as well as Hotbird 2 satellite. The BBC’s shortwave broadcasts in Russian remain unaffected.

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