WASHINGTON, D.C.— A groundbreaking TV show co-produced by Voice of America’s Russian Service and the Russian Business Channel premiered live Thursday in a primetime slot to audiences in Russia.
Cold War? connects VOA hosts in Washington and New York with RBC’s Moscow-based host for a candid discussion with in-studio guests about points of contention between the two countries.
The first episode aired Thursday at 7:35 p.m. Moscow time, directly after RBC’s evening news program, and featured guests Maria Snegovoaya, a columnist at Vedomosti, a major Russian language business daily, and Erica Marat, a professor at the National Defense University.
The discussion was very blunt, as discussions often were in the days of the Cold War. In one exchange, the RBC host in Moscow, Andrey Reut, said that Western sanctions were ineffective and did nothing but increase President Putin’s popularity. Marat responded that Putin’s ratings aren’t growing because of the sanctions, but because of propaganda in Russia’s government-controlled media and the government’s suppression of the opposition media.
VOA Director David Ensor says Cold War? “comes at an absolutely critical time in U.S.-Russia relations and builds on a very successful partnership between VOA and RBC.” Ensor added that it also marks the first-ever co-production between VOA and a major TV network within Russia.
VOA Russia Service broadcasters Alexey Berezin (in Washington) and Michael Gutkin (in New York) co-host the weekly show along with RBC New York co-host Boris Koltsov and RBC Editor-in-Chief Andrey Reut in Moscow.
For two years, VOA Russian has been providing popular daily 5- to 10-minutes interactives from the New York Stock Exchange that air live on RBC’s evening business news show. Cold War? is the first full-length VOA program, however, to air on Russian TV since 2007, when the Russian government clamped down on its already restrictive media environment. Voice of America’s Russian Service has since employed a successful digital strategy to inform and engage a Russian audience that is one of the most active social media communities in the world.
The RBC has an audience share of 11 percent within the Russian Federation.