Soviet Central Television
|First air date||9 March 1938 based in Moscow|
|Founded||9 March 1938 based in Moscow|
|Licence area||Moscow, Soviet Union|
|Broadcast area||Soviet Union|
|Launch date||9 March 1938 based in Moscow|
|Dissolved||27 December 1991 based in Moscow|
|Replaced by||Programme One: Ostankino TV Channel 1, Public Russian Television, and now Channel One Russia
Programme Two: All Union First Programme
All Union First Programme: Main state TV channels of the Soviet Union republics
Moscow Programme: MTK-Moscow Television Channel, now TV Center
Programme Four: Ostankino TV Channel 4, Russian Universities, now NTV (NTV already existed as Russian Universities evening news and entertainment block until it took over Russian Universities entire airtime in 1994)
Leningrad Television: Petersburg State Television Company till 1997, Saint Petersburg Television and Radio until 2004, presently Petersburg - Channel 5
Soviet TV programming was highly diverse and somewhat similar to that of American PBS. Like much of the Soviet Union media, CT USSR was a propaganda tool of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Initially, the service was operated, together with the national radio service, by Ministry of Culture of the USSR. Later it was operated by the USSR State Committee on Television and Radio (USSR Gosteleradio, Russian:Государственный комитет по телевидению и радиовещанию СССР, Гостелерадио СССР), under USSR Communications Ministry and USSR Information and Press Ministry, and later a Council of Ministers-controlled network of television and radio broadcasting.
First decades 
Radio was the dominant medium in the former Soviet Union, however, in the 1930s preparations for television were in full swing.
In 1 October 1934, the first television sets were made available to the public. The next year, the first television broadcasts began.
The Soviet Union television service began full-time experimental test broadcasts on 1 March 1938.
Regular public programming began on 9 March 1938 - with an evening of programmes, which included news, documentary films and entertainment on Channel 1 in Moscow. At the same time, Channel 5 Leningrad the national television service from Leningrad and the northern Soviet Union, was launched on 7 July the same year.
Programmes were stopped in 1941 at the start of Operation Barbarossa, for fear that the Shabolovka transmitter would be used as an enemy beacon. The same thing happened in Leningrad due to the almost 4 years siege there in the city.
The USSR television service began experimental test broadcasts on 7 May 1945 (two days before the German surrender), in preparation for its full reopening.
Regular public programming resumed on 7 March 1948.
The USSR television service temporarily stopped broadcasts on December 1948 for major upgrade of the broadcast equipment, but by 1 May the next year, Leningrad and the northern/northwestern USSR resumed television broadcasts for the Palace Square May Day Parade.
Regular programming resumed on 16 June 1949, but was now broadcasting in 625 lines - a first in the world.
On 22 March 1951, the Moscow TV station was renamed, to avoid confusion by viewers about the forthcoming local channels, becoming the Central Television Station, later known as Programme 1. Leningrad's television service was also renamed into Leningrad Television, and continued its national broadcasts.
On 26 August 1952, the Leningrad Television Centre was inaugurated, the USSR's first state-of-the-art television studios.
On New Year's Day 1955 the Central Television Station began transmitting daily programming.
On 14 February 1956, the new Moscow Programme commenced broadcasting for viewers in Moscow and in the surrounding Moscow Oblast.
The USSR television service (both Programme 1 and Moscow Programme 2) began experimental colour broadcast tests on 14 January 1960.
The next year, Leningrad Television moved its studios and officers to more bigger premises.
The USSR authorities began construction of a television center in Ostankino in 1963 for the television networks. It was opened in 1967 as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. Leningrad would soon follow suit the next year as the newly-renovated and expanded Leningrad Television Broadcasting Center reopened its doors.
On 1 September 1964, CT USSR Programme One launched Spokoynoy nochi, malyshi! (Good Night, Kids!) as an answer to the East German Sandmännchen. The idea was an animated film and then and sending them to bed before the programmes for adults began at 21:00 (with the main evening news Vremya). With several generations of children growing up with the show, it has remained a popular childhood memory. Russia 1 still continues this practice today.
On 29 March 1965, Programme Three commenced broadcasting. It was originally an educational channel. This channel was shown only in the major cities in the European USSR (e.g. Moscow and Leningrad), and its programming was co-produced with the USSR Ministry of Education, oriented towards the nation's student population at all levels from pre-school till college.
In 1965, CT USSR established a satellite network to expand the television service nationwide.
- 1965 - Experimental broadcast to the Far East via the Molniya system.
- 1971 - Regular broadcasts begin in Siberia, the Far East and central Asia via the Orbita system.
- 1971 - The Vostok satellite begins programmes to viewers in Kazakhstan.
- 1976 - Ekran (Screen) satellite begins broadcasts. The satellite network for viewers in Soviet Asia (programmes were relayed by transmitter in the European side) was given the name "Orbita" in the same year.
In 1967, the all-new, youth, sport and entertainment network Programme 4 was launched. Programme 3, which was from the beginning available to Moscow only, began broadcasting to the entire USSR via satellite in 1982. Thus, it was renamed All-Union Programme for this purpose and moved to channel 2 in 1977, while Moscow Programme switched to channel 3.
Television Programmes 
- Vremya: The main news programme.
- Little Blue Light: Popular entertainment show. shown on International Women's Day, May Day, and New Years' Eve.
- Budil'nik: Children's programme.
- Do 16 i starshe: Youth programme.
Notable annual traditions of Soviet Central Television included the telecasts of the Red Square demonstrations on May Day, Victory Day and the October Revolution anniversary parades, and the broadcast of the film The Irony of Fate (Or Enjoy Your Bath!) on New Year's Eve night, right after the CPSU General Secretary's New Year message, and Soviet national anthem, and the Little Blue Light New Year's Edition. Concerts and musical programs also commemorated these and other national holidays. Since 1971 it was also the official network for the USSR's Pesnya All-Union National Soviet Music Festival aired on New Year's Day, also soon becoming a holiday practice for viewers across the nation.
Colour television was introduced on 10 October 1967, making the Soviet Union the fourth country in Europe to switch to colour broadcast, after the United Kingdom's BBC2, West Germany and France (see Timeline of the introduction of color television in countries), again ready for the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution on 7 November 1967. Moscow Programme and Leningrad Television were the first colour broadcasters, even through the 7 November 1967 parade was broadcast in monochrome in the main national channels and Programme 4. CT USSR chose the French SÉCAM colour standard, which would later be adopted across the Eastern Bloc (Romania and Yugoslavia, however, settled for the PAL standard).
By 1976, full colour broadcasts began throughout the entire Soviet Union using the SECAM format on all television programs broadcast on all the national channels: Programme One, Programme Two, Moscow Programme, Programme Four and Programme Five - Leningrad Television, and in all the republican networks.
Olympic Games 
The hosting of the 1980 Summer Olympics by Moscow was a source of pride for the Eastern Bloc. However, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 had caused outrage in the west, leading to a boycott of the games by 64 western-aligned nations. CT USSR, as the host nation broadcaster, presented a color broadcast of the Games to the world, and in Soviet territory the Games were broadcast on the two main channels with additional coverage on Program 3, Program 4 and Leningrad Television as well as the republican channels in Belarus, Ukraine (football) and Estonia (sailing). The other republican stations also simulcast and highlighted the entire event.
In 1988, the USSR-built Gorizont satellite was launched, providing television programming to much of Europe and northern Africa, and even eastern parts of the Americas. The programmes of all the Eastern European socialist republics, including the CT USSR channels, were broadcast on the satellite.
The reforms 
At first, CT USSR stuck to the party line and barely reported the opposition to the communist regime. However, after the rule of the CPSU began to break down in 1990, CT USSR reformed their programmes to remove propaganda and to report news freely.
By the time the Glasnost came into effect, the main news programme on the then Programme 1 (Vremya) was being produced without censorship or interference, and so it covered the events in full. In recognition of its reliable coverage, the programme was re-broadcast on several TV channels around the world (such as Australia's SBS and the United Kingdom's Sky News).
CT USSR, at the same time, started a number of new programme strands and formats, including talk shows.
On 4 March 1990, emphasizing the Glasnost campaign, Programme 3 and Programme 4, plus Leningrad Television began to be carried across the Soviet territory via satellite.
Dissolution of the USSR 
On 27 December 1991, Ostankino Television 1 and Ostankino Television 4 (Presently Channel One (Russia) and NTV (Russia)) took over the frequencies of Programme 1 and Programme 4. Leningrad Television 5 soon became St. Petersburg State Television Network, broadcasting to all of Russia until 1997.
Employees of CT USSR were worried about job prospects in the new broadcaster and also had a loyalty to Central Television USSR. Viewers accustomed to the Russian programming, were concerned at the loss of favourite shows. (Some of the Central Television USSR shows are now consigned to Channel One Russia and Russia 1) Additionally the three big Russian channels - Channel One, Russia 1 and Petersburg-Channel 5 - have a good amount of presence in the former Soviet territory, and most of the republican stations are now fully independent.
Former television stations 
Soviet Central Television had three and later five television channels over its history.
- Programme One was formed in 1938, and began to broadcast a regular daily schedule in 1955. This was the main channel in the former Soviet Union and was a crucial tool for the dissemination of propaganda by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Its output included general entertainment, documentaries and news.
- Programme Two was created in 1965. (Its name at first was Programme Three.) Its programmes was mostly entertainment, cultural, news and sport programming. This is also called the All-Union Program due to its national reach across the Soviet Union and the fact that even programs of all forms from the various Union republics were also broadcast here.
- Moscow Programme was created in 1956, the second channel to be launched. Its programming was somewhat similar to Program One, but was more flavored at the Moscow City and Region citizens.
- Programme Four was created in 1967-1968. Its programming was aimed at the intelligentsia and students at all levels.
- Programme Five - Leningrad Television, the national television service from Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and the northern and northwestern USSR was created in 1938, four months after the birth of television in the Soviet Union. Programmes from Leningrad City and Region were aired here, plus those from the USSR's Baltic republics (the republics also had their share on Program 2, the All-Union Program). Today, it is Petersburg - Channel 5 and still airs nationally (from 1992–1997 and from 2004 to present).
Central Television USSR signed off for the final time on 27 December 1991 and became Ostankino Television Channel 1 and Ostankino Television Channel 4, of Ostankino State Television. Its two remaining channels carried former their predecessors' programming. The direct successor of Soviet Central Television in Russia, it became defunct on 30 November 1994, becoming the Channel One Russia of today (It was then called until 2002 as ORT 1-Public Russian Television 1).
There are 3 idents which were broadcast in a day during CT USSR.
- Startup ident: The blue background with CT USSR's logo (see below) appearing, first the red star (with one point extended) with the phrase TB CCCP (TV USSR), followed by the rings and the caption changing to the channel's name. Broadcast after the national anthem and before the exercise programme in the morning, and before the news in the evening (see Sign-on).
- Daytime ident: Still version of the startup ident.
- Closedown ident: Reverse of the startup ident, but different soundtrack. Followed by the clock.
Logo History 
There is only one CT USSR logo, which have five rings from a red star-designed antenna in it.
Opening and Closing times 
Soviet Central Television (Programme One, Programme Two and Moscow Programme) sign on at 08:00 morning with the test card along with music playing. clock ident, play now at national anthem accompanied by a largest viewer city of Moscow a national capital of Soviet Union and station ident.
Soviet Central Television (Programme One, Programme Two and Moscow Programme) sign on at 16:00 evening with the test card along with music playing. clock ident, play now at national anthem accompanied by a largest viewer city of Moscow a national capital of Soviet Union and station ident.
Soviet Central Television (Programme One, Programme Two and Moscow Programme) sign off at 13:00 day with the station ident, Clock ident, caption Don't forget to switch off your set accompanied by intermittent beeping and test card.
Soviet Central Television (Programme One, Programme Two and Moscow Programme) sign off at 23:00 evening with the station ident, Clock ident, caption Don't forget to switch off your set accompanied by intermittent beeping and test card.
- 1938-1967: Newsreel intro.
- 1967-1976: Blue background with "Новости" next to a red star. Still and silent intro.
- 1976-1990: Blue background with "Новости" moving from right to left, with a stylized "H". Background music was "Time Forward" by Georgy Sviridov.
- 1990-1991: The letters T, C and H appear to form TCH - Телевизионная служба новостей (Television news service).
There was only one clock broadcast.
Test Card 
The UEIT test card was used.
Colour TV standard 
When colour television was introduced in 1967, the SÉCAM system was chosen. Following the collapse of the USSR, some of its former republics switched to the PAL colour system.
Broadcasting in the USSR was heavily subsidized by the state.
Advertising - in the form of "commercial" magazine programmes - had appeared on the USSR television from the 1980s. However, in a command economy, there was little or no competition between brands, so advertising was limited to a form of reminding viewers what products were available. (Other forms of advertising included posters and matchbox covers.)
With the Perestroika, spot advertising was introduced to CT USSR in order to better cover the system's cost.