BBC World Service has been informed by the owners of the Moscow FM radio station Bolshoye Radio that BBC programming in Russian will no longer be broadcast on the station, as of Friday. 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 programs over the last nine months.
The owners of Bolshoye Radio, financial group Finam, have told representatives of the BBC Russian Service that they are required to remove BBC programming at the request of Russian licensing authorities, or risk the station being taken off air.
The BBC intends to appeal to Russia’s Federal Service for the Supervision of Mass Media, Communication and Protection of Cultural Heritage. It will ask for the decision to be reviewed and for the original concept of the station to be respected.
According to official warnings received by Finam from the regulatory body, the license requires that all programming must be produced by Bolshoye Radio itself.
However the BBC said that the detailed concept documents – the basis on which the license was awarded in February 2006 – clearly state that only "60% of the station’s total output will be original material produced by Bolshoye Radio".
The BBC has had previous problems with FM broadcasting in Russia. At the end of 2006, Moscow station Radio Arsenal ceased taking BBC programming, and in early 2006 the St Petersburg station Radio Leningrad also stopped taking BBC programs. Radio Leningrad informed the BBC that it had been required to stop broadcasting BBC programs by local licensing authorities.