Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), operating under a grant from the BBG, broadcasts uncensored news and information in 28 languages to countries where a free press is either banned by the government or not fully established. RFE/RL’s broadcasts are heard across 11 time zones each week, by nearly 18 million listeners in 21 countries including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Russia. RFE/RL produces more than 1,000 hours of content each week from its broadcast headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic and its 19 regional bureaus.
In order to reach people in some of the most closed societies on earth, RFE/RL is using the latest technologies to deliver the news – the Internet, SMS text messaging, satellite radio, Facebook, and Twitter. With more than 60 years of surrogate broadcasting experience, RFE/RL continues to bring audiences the rich, immediate, and interactive content they seek.
- RFE broadcasts to 21 countries in 28 languages: Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Avar, Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Belarusian, Bosnian, Chechen, Circassian, Crimean Tatar, Croatian, Dari, Georgian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Pashto, Persian, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Tajik, Tatar, Turkmen, Ukrainian, Uzbek
- Broadcast Hours: Approximately 1,163 hours/week
- Platforms: Radio (AM, FM, UKW, SW, Cable, Satellite), Internet (22 websites), Television
- Audience: 24 million/week (FY 2011)
- Budget: $92.7 million (FY 2010)
- Employees: In addition to 500+ employees in Prague and Washington, we maintain 20 local bureaus with a total of 240 journalists and over 700 freelancers and stringers.
RFE /RL ’s Radio Azadi continues to be Afghanistan’s most popular media outlet, reaching 62 percent of the adult population with a unique blend of call-in programs, news reporting and user-generated content. Nearly 500,000 Afghans receive Radio Azadi mobile phone news updates and send citizen journalism reports to the station via a free subscription-based SMS service.
“Over the years, local media outlets routinely censored our news. But Radio Azadi always aired the news as it was. It has always been the best place to obtain objective facts.” – Dr. Zamai Zabuli, Chairman of the Complaints Committee of the Afghanistan Senate.
In early 2012, RFE /RL ’s Radio Mashaal will mark two years of broadcasting in the tribal areas of Northwest Pakistan. With its extensive network of local reporters, it provided unique and comprehensive coverage of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and broke the news of a Pakistani terror group’s claim of responsibility for the December 2011 Ashura bombing in
Correspondent Shaheen Buneri won a 2011 Persephone Miel Fellowship from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, with which he traveled to the Swat Valley to report on tensions there.
Despite telephone and radio signal interference, website censorship, and threats against those contacting RFE /RL , millions of Iranians continued to turn to Radio Farda for news and information on Iran in 2011 by using BBG-sponsored Internet censorship circumvention tools.
Banned from Azerbaijan’s FM airwaves, RFE /RL ’s Radio Azadliq embraced the Internet as a primary delivery platform where its award-winning satire show, “250 Seconds+” has become a hit. The service launched an unscripted show simulcast live on Facebook, the Service’s website, and Livestream TV that is fueled by audience interactions via Facebook and Twitter.
Several RFE /RL journalists were harassed, detained and fined while trying to cover the “silent protests” against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s government in Belarus in June and July. During live coverage, RFE /RL ’s Belarusian Service website suffered a suspected distributed denial of service attack (“DD oS”) and later a malicious cloning of its YouTube page.
In 2011, RFE /RL became one of the most popular non-profit channels on the entire YouTube site as many of the country’s TV outlets used its pioneering live streams and Internet video reports in their nightly newscasts The Yerevan Press Club recognized web editor Artur Papian with its coveted Annual Award for his contributions to digital media development in Armenia.
The aggressive Internet strategy employed by RFE /RL ’s Radio Svoboda has increased its visibility by making use of new media tools such as Twitter and Facebook to foster citizen journalism and to promote civil society development. RFE /RL provided extensive coverage of the Khimki Forest demonstrations and innovative reporting on the legal woes of imprisoned former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Traffic to its website increased by 40% during the post-election protests in December 2011, as the station covered events with live-streamed video, photo galleries, and blogs.
RFE /RL was among the first to reveal to the outside world the true dimensions of a massive explosion at a munitions plant in July that the Turkmen government tried to cover up. Two months later, RFE /RL ’s reporter Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev was arrested and jailed on dubious charges. Following intense international pressure, Turkmen authorities pardoned him.
Other initiatives included crowd-mapping election fraud in Kazakhstan, livetweeting the trial of two former state media employees in Uzbekistan, and extensively reporting on the case of two Tajik workers murdered in Russia. In Kyrgyzstan, RFE /RL reaches more than 30 percent of adults with a mixture of radio, Internet and television programs.
Correspondent Janyl Chytyrbaeva received a “Highly Commended” award in the category of “Best Investigative Radio Documentary” from the Association for International Broadcasting for her report on women who had been victims of rape during the ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan in June 2010.
RFE/RL journalist Janarbek Akaev was voted Kyrgyzstan’s best TV presenter for the second year running, in a competition sponsored by Kyrgyzstan’s most popular newspaper.