Why the BBC has restarted shortwave radio broadcasts in Ukraine

As Russia tries to cut off the flow of information in Ukraine By attacking its communication infrastructure, the British media BBC is r...


As Russia tries to cut off the flow of information in Ukraine By attacking its communication infrastructure, the British media BBC is revisiting a broadcasting tactic popularized during the Second World War: shortwave radio.

The BBC said this week it would use radio frequencies that can travel long distances and be accessible on portable radios to broadcast its world service news in English for four hours a day in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and some parts of Russia.

“It is often said that the truth is the first casualty of war,” BBC director-general Tim Davie said in a statement. “In a conflict where disinformation and propaganda are rampant, there is a clear need for factual, independent information that people can trust.”

Tuesday, Russian projectiles hit Kiev’s main radio and television tower. Oleksii Reznikov, Ukrainian Defense Minister, wrote on Twitter that Russia’s goal was to ‘break the resistance of the Ukrainian people and military’, starting with ‘breaking the connection’ and ‘massively spreading FALSE messages that the Ukrainian leadership agreed to drop’ .

Shortwave radio has been a go-to vehicle for reaching listeners in conflict zones for decades, used to deliver crackling dispatches to Persian Gulf War soldierssend the codes to spies in north korea and pontificate through the iron curtain for the Cold War. But more modern forms of radio as well as the internet eventually pushed shortwave in disgrace; the BBC has withdrawn its shortwave transmissions in Europe 14 years ago.

In the last week of February, audiences for the BBC’s Ukrainian-language site more than doubled from a year earlier to 3.9 million visitors, the broadcaster said on Wednesday. The BBC also provides news coverage in the country through its website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, Viber and Espreso TV.

Millions of Russians also turn to the BBC, the broadcaster said. The audience for the BBC’s Russian-language news site hit a record 10.7 million last week, more than tripling its weekly average so far in 2022, the company said. Visitors to the BBC’s English-language website from Russia jumped 252% to 423,000.

In the country, the BBC also posts updates on Telegram, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Other Western media also saw an increase in their audience. Visits to The Guardian’s digital platforms by Russian and Ukrainian audiences are up 180% from January.

The BBC coverage led to complaints from Russian officials. Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said during a briefing carried by RTthe Russian media supported by the Kremlinthat Russia was the victim of “unprecedented information terrorism” that was “dedicated to discrediting Russian actions” and “creating hysteria around events in Ukraine”.

The BBC “plays a determined role in undermining Russian stability and security,” Ms Zakharova said, without providing evidence.

Early Friday, the Russian service of the BBC reported issues access its site in Russia.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Why the BBC has restarted shortwave radio broadcasts in Ukraine
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