Voice of Russia

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Russian State Radio Company
Voice of Russia
Type Radio network
Country Russia
Availability International
Owner International Information Agency Russia Today (as of 9 Dec 2013)
(prev owner All-Russia State Television and Radio Company)
Key people
Andrey Bystritskiy (Chairman); Maxim Krasovsky (Editor-in-Chief, World Service in English)
Launch date
29 October 1929
Former names
Radio Moscow
Official website
ruvr.ru

Voice of Russia (Russian: Голос России, Golos Rossii) is the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service. Its predecessor Radio Moscow was the official international broadcasting station of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. On 9 December 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a presidential decree liquidating Voice of Russia as an agency and merging it with RIA Novosti to form the Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) international news agency.[1] It is unclear at this point whether the radio station itself will keep the name Voice of Russia or be renamed.

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

Antenna of "Voice of Russia" in Wachenbrunn, Germany
Radio Moscow pennant from late 1980s
Stamp of 1979

Radio Moscow began broadcasting in 1922 with a transmitter station RV-1 in the Moscow region. In 1925 a second broadcasting centre came on air at Leningrad. Radio Moscow was broadcasting (on mediumwave and shortwave) in English, French, Indonesian, German, Italian and Arabic by 1939. Radio Moscow did express concern over the rise of German dictator Adolf Hitler during the 1930s, and its Italian mediumwave service specifically was jammed by an order of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini during the late 1930s.

The Cold War years[edit]

The U.S. was first targeted by Radio Moscow during the early 1950s, with transmitters in the Moscow region. Later Western North America was targeted by the newly constructed Vladivostok and Magadan relay stations. The first broadcasts to Africa went on the air in the late 1950s in English and French.

In 1961 Radio Moscow for the first time spoke in three African languages: Amharic, Swahili and Hausa. Over time, listeners in Africa got a chance to tune into Radio Moscow in another eight African languages.

The first centralized news bulletin went on the air in August 1963 and reached out to listeners all over the world. In the years of the Cold War most news reports and commentaries focused on the relations between the United States and Soviet Union.

A sample of a Radio Moscow shortwave broadcast from the late 1980s.

In the 1970s the cream of Radio Moscow's commentator teams united in a radio journal, called "News and Views". Taking part in the ambitious project were Viktor Glazunov, Leonid Rassadin, Yuri Shalygin, Alexander Kushnir, Yuri Solton and Vladislav Chernukha. Over the years the journal grew into a major information and analytical program of the Radio Moscow foreign service.

Changes 1980s–1991[edit]

In the late 1970s its English language service was renamed Radio Moscow World Service. The project was launched and supervised by a long-time Radio Moscow journalist and manager Alexander Evstafiev. Later a North American service, African service and even a "UK & Ireland" service (all in English) operated for a few hours per day alongside the regular (24 Hour) English World Service as well as services in other languages, the "Radio Peace and Progress" service and a small number of programmes from some of the USSR republics.

Broadcasting Soviet information was Radio Moscow's primary function. All programmes (except for short newsbreaks) had to be cleared by a "Programming Directorate", a form of censorship that was only removed in 1991.

At its peak, Radio Moscow broadcast in over 70 languages using transmitters in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Cuba.

Radio Moscow's interval signal was 'My Country's Vast' (Russian: Широка страна моя родная), played on chimes. This has been changed to Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky in 1991. A move has been made in an attempt to drift away from the image of the communist propaganda media.

One of the most popular programmes on air in the 1980s, due to its informal presentation that contrasted with most other shows, was the 'Listeners’ Request Club' hosted by prominent radio presenter Vasily Strelnikov. Another popular feature which began on Radio Moscow was Moscow Mailbag, which answered listeners' questions in English about the former Soviet Union and later about Russia. For almost five decades, between 1957 and 2005, the programme was presented by Joe Adamov, who was known for his command of the English language and his good humour. Radio Moscow continued to broadcast until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and was renamed the World Service of the Voice of Russia.

Merger with RIA Novosti/Russia Today[edit]

On 9 December 2013, Voice of Russia was merged with RIA Novosti to form the Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) international news agency.[2] On 31 December 2013, the editor-in-chief of the RT international news channel, Margarita Simonyan, was given the additional appointment of editor-in-chief of Rossiya Segodnya, thus putting RT, Rossiya Segodnya and Voice of Russia under common editorial control.[3]

End of shortwave service[edit]

Several reports published in 2013 claimed that Voice of Russia was to cease its shortwave service as of January 1, 2014 due to budget cuts. In 2013, shortwave transmissions were cut to 26 hours a day in all languages, down from more than 50 hours a day in 2012.[4] While reported by the official RIA Novosti news agency, the cut of shortwave service has not been confirmed by Voice of Russia itself. Other sources reported that Voice of Russia is to remain on the air in 2014 but with changes in their frequency schedule.[5] Ultimately, VoR reported that they would continue but that their English language shortwave broadcast schedule would be reduced to 38 hours a week. VoR also broadcasts online, via satellite, on FM, and via three medium-wave transmitters.[6]

As of 3 February 2014, Voice of Russia broadcasts via analog shortwave for 18 hours a day in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese and shortwave via digital radio for 22 hours a day in English, Spanish, German, French, Hindi, Urdu, and Russian.[7] VoR was also available locally in some cities via AM or FM or mediumwave.

Voice of Russia ceased shortwave and mediumwave broadcasting effective 1 April 2014.[8] The service continues to be available worldwide via the internet, in selected regions on satellite, and in several cities on FM or digital radio.

Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of the new Russia Today International News Agency which manages Voice of Russia, said in March 2014 that "We will stop using obsolete radio broadcasting models, when the signal is transmitted without any control and when it is impossible to calculate who listens to it and where."[9]

Former transmission network[edit]

As late as 2013, the Voice of Russia continued to broadcast to most of the world on shortwave and mediumwave, satellite, via the World Radio Network and via the Internet. Mmedium and short wave broadcasts with strong signals targeted at Europe continued until shortly after the Sochi Olympics in early 2014. By this point, major international broadcasters no longer target shortwave broadcasts at Europe, including the Cold War rivals of Radio Moscow: the Voice of America and BBC World Service (China Radio International continues, and has expanded, short wave broadcasts to Europe).

Radio Moscow's and Voice of Russia's shortwave (SW) transmission network has never been equalled in its transmission power, directivity and reach. During the station's peak in the 1980s the same programmes could often be heard on anything up to forty frequencies on the (heavily overcrowded) shortwave bands although the station never published its complete time/frequency schedule as radio frequencies were regarded as state secrets by the Soviet government.[citation needed]

The transmission network consisted of at least 30 high-power transmission sites (West to East, with first transmission dates):

Voice of Russia broadcast in short, medium and longwave formats, in DAB+, DRM, HD-Radio, as well as through cable, satellite transmission and in mobile networks. VOR’s Internet coverage comes in as many as 38 languages.

Voice of Russia announced on 1 July 2004, the successful implementation, and planned expansion, of its DRM broadcasts on short-wave and medium-wave. In September 2009 the Russian State Commission for Radio Frequencies, the national regulator of broadcasting, has decided on the DRM has the standard for mediumwave and shortwave services.

Starting in March 2013, VOR has been broadcasting in the digital HD Radio format in Washington and Chicago, and in Switzerland using its digital DAB+ multiplex.[10]

Broadcast languages[edit]

As of 2013 the Voice of Russia broadcast in 38 languages, including:[11]

VOR output compared to other broadcasters[edit]

For a comparison of VOR (RM) to other broadcasters see

Estimated total direct programme hours per week of some external radio broadcasters for 1996
Broadcaster 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 1996[2]
United States VOA, RFE/RL & Radio Martí 497 1,495 1,907 1,901 2,611 1,821
China China Radio International 66 687 1,267 1,350 1,515 1,620
United Kingdom BBC World Service 643 589 723 719 796 1,036
Russia Radio Moscow / Voice of Russia[3][1] 533 1,015 1,908 2,094 1,876 726
Germany Deutsche Welle 0 315 779 804 848 655
Egypt Radio Cairo (ERTU) 0 301 540 546 605 604
Iran IRIB World Service / Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran 12 24 155 175 400 575
India All India Radio 116 157 271 389 456 500
Japan NHK World Radio Japan 0 203 259 259 343 468
France Radio France Internationale 198 326 200 125 379 459
Netherlands Radio Netherlands Worldwide[1] 127 178 335 289 323 392
Israel Israel Radio International[1] 0 91 158 210 253 365
Turkey Voice of Turkey 40 77 88 199 322 364
North Korea Radio Pyongyang / Voice of Korea 0 159 330 597 534 364
Bulgaria Radio Bulgaria[1] 30 117 164 236 320 338
Australia Radio Australia 181 257 350 333 330 307
Albania Radio Tirana (RTSH) 26 63 487 560 451 303
Romania Radio Romania International 30 159 185 198 199 298
Spain Radio Exterior de España 68 202 251 239 403 270
Portugal RDP Internacional[1] 46 133 295 214 203 226
Cuba Radio Havana Cuba 0 0 320 424 352 203
Italy Rai Italia Radio[1] 170 205 165 169 181 203
Canada Radio Canada International[1] 85 80 98 134 195 175
Poland Radio Polonia[1] 131 232 334 337 292 171
South Africa Radio RSA / Channel Africa 0 63 150 183 156 159
Sweden Sveriges Radio International[1] 28 114 140 155 167 149
Hungary Magyar Rádió[1] 76 120 105 127 102 144
Czech Republic Radio Prague[1][4] 119 196 202 255 131 131
Nigeria Voice of Nigeria 0 0 62 170 120 127
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Radio Belgrade / International Radio of Serbia 80 70 76 72 96 68

Source: International Broadcast Audience Research, June 1996

The list includes about a quarter of the world's external broadcasters whose output is both publicly funded and worldwide. Among those excluded are Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and various international commercial and religious stations.

Notes:

  1. Does not broadcast on shortwave as of 2014.
  2. 1996 figures as at June; all other years as at December.
  3. Before 1991, broadcasting for the former USSR.
  4. Before 1996, broadcasting for the former Czechoslovakia.

In 1996, the USA's international radio consisted of 992 hours per week by VOA, 667 hpw by RFE/RL, and 162 hpw by Radio Marti.

USSR Shortwave broadcasting milestones and innovations[edit]

The USSR pioneered the use of HRS 8/8/1 antennas (horizontal dipole curtain, eight columns, eight rows, with electrically steerable pattern) for highly targeted shortwave broadcasting long before HRS 12/6/1 technology became available in the west. HRS 8/8/1 curtain arrays create a 10-degree beam of shortwave energy, and can provide a highly audible signal to a target area some 7,000 km away.

The full extent of Russia's shortwave antenna directivity research is unknown, although it is understood that some ionospheric heating experiments were carried out at the Kamo and Dushanbe relay stations in the late 1980s to 1990.

HRS 6/4/1 and HRS 12/6/1 curtain arrays are sold by an U.S. company TCI [1] in California. Marconi (UK) sold two HRS 6/4/1 antennas to Voice of America-BBG before terminating all sales and service for its longwave/mediumwave and shortwave products in the late 1990s.

The full list of available shortwave relay stations is only known by the Russian Ministry of Communications. These transmission facilities can be rented by contractual agreement. The Voice of America, Deutsche Welle and other international broadcasters have leased facilities in the past and currently possess lease agreements with Russia's MOC.

All shortwave relay station facilities in Russia and the former USSR are owned and operated by the Russian Ministry of Communications, with a few exceptions where the facilities were ceded to national governments.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]