RFE/RL’s Current Time Russian-language TV celebrates five years—despite incessant Kremlin attacks
Washington, D.C. — Since its formal launch as a 24/7 TV channel on February 7, 2017, Current Time’s mission has been to bring real news to Russian-speaking audiences everywhere. Five years on, Current Time has established itself as a popular alternative to Kremlin-sponsored media, despite near-constant harassment of the channel and its journalists by Russian authorities.
Said RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly, “Current Time was established to reach Russian-speaking audiences seeking honest news and information and unfortunately, as the Kremlin attempts to censor information, the need for Current Time is greater than ever. RFE/RL looks forward to many more years of growth and engagement with Current Time’s audiences in Russia and around the world.”
Pavel Butorin, director of Current Time since 2018, stressed the channel’s role in providing balanced reporting of issues that matter to its audiences. Said Butorin, “We don’t tell our audience what to think. Instead, we engage all sides of a debate and give voice to those who are too often silenced or ignored by authorities or government-friendly media.”
Current Time has been under attack from the Kremlin since the channel began. Current Time was designated as a foreign agent in December 2017, less than one year after its formal launch, and two Current Time journalists have been named as individual “foreign agents.” Current Time was forced to move production of some of its programs outside of Russia after authorities threatened to shut down RFE/RL’s Moscow bureau over RFE/RL’s unwillingness to submit to unjust labeling requirements in May 2021. This past weekend the Kremlin threatened to ban Current Time’s website and those of seven other RFE/RL services if they did not immediately remove content related to high-profile investigations by opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny that involve Russian President Vladimir Putin, former President Dmitry Medvedev, and other prominent Russian politicians.
“The Kremlin doesn’t own the Russian language,” said RFE/RL Editor in Chief Daisy Sindelar, who served as Current Time’s director when it first launched. “Current Time stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its audience and shows life as it is, not as politicians and autocrats claim it to be.”
While Current Time launched its 24/7 TV channel five years ago, the network’s roots reach back to August 2014 and the debut of the currenttime.tv website, soon followed by its YouTube and Facebook channels and, in October 2014, the launch of its first, 30-minute news program. In addition to reporting uncensored news and debunking disinformation through its Smotri v Oba (“Footage vs. Footage”) program, Current Time is the largest provider of independent, Russian-language films to its audiences. A sampling of Current Time’s best content can be found on the channel’s English portal.
The Current Time digital and TV network is produced by RFE/RL in cooperation with Voice of America. In September 2021, the network’s measured weekly audience was 8.5 million, an increase of 9 percent over the previous year. Current Time also currently reaches 7 million followers across social media platforms, a 35 percent jump up over September 2020.. Between October 2020 and September 2021, Current Time videos were viewed more than 1.3 billion times on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty is a private, independent international news organization whose programs — radio, Internet, television, and mobile — reach influential audiences in 23 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through USAGM.
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Contact Martins Zvaners
Deputy Director of Media and Public Affairs, Washington, DC
- (202) 457-6948