Media watchdog protests cut of BBC's Russian-language FM programs

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Aug 21 14:05:12 UTC 2007

Media watchdog protests cut of BBC's Russian-language FM programs

2007-08-20 16:23:52 -

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - A global media watchdog on Monday protested the
decision by a Russian radio station to take Russian-language FM
broadcasts by the British Broadcasting Corp. off the air. On Friday,
the BBC said the decision by Bolshoye Radio, its Moscow distributor,
leaves its Russian-language services available only on medium- and
short-wave broadcasts. Bolshoye Radio's parent company, financial
group Finam, said that its license did not allow it to retransmit BBC
programs and that the station will instead focus on originally
produced material. In a statement Monday, the head of the Vienna-based
International Press Institute said he hoped the removal of BBC
programming was not the start of a return to Cold War limitations on
press freedom and freedom of expression within Russia.

«I would encourage Bolshoye Radio to allow the BBC World Service to
continue broadcasting on the station's airwaves and I would ask the
authorities to do more to protect the right of the Russian people to
receive a plurality of information from both national and
international sources,» IPI Director Johann P. Fritz said.
Noting that Russian parliamentary polls are slated for later this year
and that presidential elections are expected in March of 2008, Fritz
said it was «possible that the removal of the BBC was part of a policy
to control the media during this crucial period.
Several foreign-language broadcasters have seen their programming
curtailed or pulled off the air in Russia in recent years. «Since
2000, the Russian government has sought to obtain greater control over
information and has tightened its grip on the media, particularly
broadcasting,» Fritz said.


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