Last month the Broadcasting Board of Governors celebrated the official launch of its new 24/7 Russian-language digital network Current Time. Its mission is simple and utterly vital: to provide accurate, professional, independent and unbiased news to Russian-speakers in and around Russia, and around the world.
On the air since October 2016, and formally launched in February 2017, the Current Time digital network provides fact-based news and information produced by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) with significant contributions from Voice of America (VOA). Its feature programming covers topics such as business, entrepreneurship, civil society, culture and corruption. The network also airs both short- and long-form documentaries, including ones banned in Russia because of their political content. The most notable example is “My Friend Boris Nemtsov,” an intimate portrait of the Russian opposition leader filmed months before his murder in February 2015.
In addition to its television content, Current Time deploys a sophisticated digital component, using news content to develop social media videos that have proved popular on their web and mobile platforms, reaching the growing number of people that primarily use internet for their primary source of news.
Current Time is professional, independent journalism for those looking to broaden their choices in a media space where Kremlin-controlled disinformation is endemic and growing.
But while we celebrate the accomplishment of launching a 24/7 Russian-language digital network, Current Time is one example of what we do every day, around the world, in places where media freedom and access to truth remains a challenge.
The need for free, trustworthy information is not unique to Russia. In places like Iran, Cuba, China and ISIS-controlled areas, the battle to ensure access to credible news and information is ongoing. In these battlefields, where fake news and false narratives are often the weapons of choice, the BBG arms audiences with accurate, balanced, unbiased and uncensored, fact-based journalism.
Current Time serves as a model for how BBG networks can operate, with enhanced cooperation, to maximize the agility, efficiency and impact of the BBG networks and to effectively address the rapidly evolving global media environment. It is also a reflection of our core beliefs that accurate, independent, fact-based reporting is the best defense against propaganda.
Current Time is the model of what is to come in the future of U.S. international media. Stay tuned.