Russia: End of an era for long-wave listeners

A vintage Bush radio Image copyright BBC Monitoring
Image caption 'Moscow' has been a fixture on many radio dials for decades

Russia has quietly switched off nearly all of its long-wave transmitters, ending almost nine decades of broadcasting - as cost finally catches up on the medium.

At 1am on 9 January, state-run Radio Rossii wound up its broadcast as usual with the national anthem. There was no mention that long-wave transmissions were coming to an end, and the following day listeners found they had to rely on local FM broadcasts and the internet to hear the station. The only state radio station with truly national coverage, Radio Rossii can be compared to BBC Radio 4 with its mix of news, drama and educational programmes.

Long-wave suited Russian broadcasters because a single transmitter could reach a wide area at all times of day and night. But they are expensive, and as most listeners have begun listening on FM, or through cable, satellite and the internet, the authorities decided to bring the service to an end..

Long-wave radio played a role in the Cold War, with the United States building a powerful transmitter near Munich and broadcasting its Russian service on the same frequency as Moscow's programmes. Listeners in parts of the Soviet Union found state radio drowned out by the Voice of America - the US equivalent of the BBC World Service.

Image copyright BBC Monitoring
Image caption Long-wave radio broadcasting has become a victim of technology and finance

Now only one LW transmitter remains in the country, broadcasting Radio Kavkaz to the North Caucasus region on a limited schedule.

The BBC says that although it is planning to end its use of long-wave radio at some time in the future, there is no specific date for the closure of its Radio 4 transmissions on 198 kHz, much loved by listeners of the shipping forecast and Test Match Special.

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.