The broadcaster funded by the US Congress to “promote democratic values and institutions” has racked up fines of 169 million roubles ($2.277 million) for violating rules governing the presence of foreign media in Russia. This is an order issued by the Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Connection and Mass Communication), which as of 23 September 2020 has required foreign media to preface messages and materials broadcast with the indication that they are produced by a foreign media outlet. The broadcaster has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to verify the legality of the application of Russian legislation for foreign media against them and says it intends to appeal all court decisions.
The small country sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine does not shine in terms of transparency and ease of circulation of radio and media news. The internal political situation is confused, the fact that Transnistria (with a Russian-speaking majority) is de facto independent (and has long since switched off all OIRT band installations) are other elements that do not help to easily decipher the situation.
However, up to the end of 2020, some fifteen installations on the ‘old’ FM were in operation, both from public and private operators. These included Radio Free Europe (in local language), the station funded by the US Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
If the news, although fragmentary, excludes the shutdown of the various stations (Radio Moldova Actualitati, Radio Micul Samaritean, Vocea Beserabiei and other smaller ones), some more concern is aroused by the situation of the three Radio Free Europe stations: in fact, the one operating on 69.53 has recently been reported switched off and this raises some questions. Is the shutdown temporary (due to a fault or something similar) or permanent? Will the other two RFE frequencies (68.48 and 70.31) soon be switched off too, or will they continue? However, the delicate political situation in the country (and in the area surrounding the Black Sea as a whole) means that even a partial shutdown of the station is unlikely.
And there are also lights on the analogue TV channels R2 and R3 (with the audio carrier, respectively, on 65.75 and 83.75 MHz) because the analogue-to-digital switch originally planned in 2015 has not yet been completed and it seems that the possible new end date isSeptember 2021.
After 27 yearsRadio Liberty returns to speak to Hungarian citizens: on 08th September 2020 it opened an editorial office in Budapest, given the political involution in the country. Premier Viktor Orbán has put more and more stress on democracy and has plunged Hungary into 89th place in the press freedom index produced by Reporters sans Frontières. But things are not simple: the American ambassador (President Donald Trump is in ideological harmony with Orbán) has asked the broadcaster (who declares not to be pressured) to be sympathetic to the Hungarian premier. More info here and here.
In order to smother the protests after the rigged elections that reconfirmed Alexander Lukashenko as the President of Belarus for the sixth time, the regime has censored radio transmissions and they now only broadcast music and entertainment programmes. As a result, Poland has begun transmitting programmes in Belarusian (with three news broadcasts per day) from the long wave radio station, Solec Kujawski, that transmits on 225 kHz and, with its 1000 kW power, can be received all over Europe. In addition, Radio Liberty (financed by the United States Congress) has been reactivated on 1386 kHz from Viesintos, Lithuania. The transmitter was formerly used in Germany by the American Forces Network (the broadcast service for American troops) on 873 kHz. When transmissions from Weisskirchen (near Frankfurt) ceased in May 2013, the relatively new transmitter was mothballed and later taken to Lithuania. The portal Radios du Monde dedicated an article to this.