Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reaches more than 23 million people in 28 languages and in 21 countries, including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia. RFE/RL journalists provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate. RFE/RL uses the latest digital technologies – the Internet, SMS text messaging, online video, satellite radio, and popular social media networks – and trusted broadcast radio to reach people in some of the most closed societies on earth. With more than 60 years of surrogate broadcasting experience, RFE/RL continues to bring audiences the rich, immediate, and interactive content they seek. RFE/RL is funded by a grant from the BBG.
- 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 1,170 hours/week
- Platforms: Radio (AM, FM, UKW, SW, Cable, Satellite), Internet (22 websites), Television
- Audience: 23 million/week (FY 2012)
- Budget: $95.2 million (FY 2012)
- Employees: In addition to 500+ employees in Prague and Washington, RFE/RL maintains 20 local bureaus with a total of 240 journalists and over 700 freelancers and stringers.
Radio Mashaal’s mission to counter extremism in Pakistan’s remote tribal regions was on full display in its coverage of the October attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai. Radio Mashaal provided coverage that was original and infused with an intimate understanding of the region and the political forces at play in a story that quickly went global. In such areas, where communities are controlled by militants and subject to their propaganda, Radio Mashaal journalists themselves work under threat and at great personal risk.
Radio Farda’s award-winning series Solitary Confinement and Born in Prison, documenting first-hand stories of Iranian political prisoners, exemplified the service’s role in addressing developments both inside and outside Iran that are banned in the official press. Vigorous social media programming, The Sixth Hour call-in show, and a newly launched TV format increased its capacity to engage Iranians directly on political, social, cultural, economic “and security issues they define as important.
Radio Azadi is recognized as Afghanistan’s surrogate national public broadcaster, reaching more than 60 percent of the country’s adult population with trusted, in-depth coverage of issues affecting their communities and their country. In daily reporting about schools, water, transportation, domestic violence, local conflict, public health, unemployment and refugees, Azadi shines a spotlight on real problems, engages its audience in informed discussion, facilitates responses from local officials and promotes public accountability. It has become the standard-bearer of professional journalism in Afghanistan while contributing to a culture of public participation, pluralism and debate.
The Kyrgyz service has positioned itself as an informed and enterprising multimedia outlet that delivers news with impact. A story on violence within the Kyrgyz émigré community in Russia broke a social taboo, while a radio documentary on the country’s Sulukta coal mines highlighted the scourge of poverty in the south and prompted local advocacy groups to act. The service has pioneered the practice of live field-based reporting and has received grants to train media in other countries on its techniques.
Despite an increasingly hostile media environment, the Tajik Service exemplified the role of an independent, investigative news organization with unstinting reporting on military operations, security issues and social problems during the year. The service’s award-winning website was blocked on several occasions as authorities attempted to control the flow of unsanctioned news inside the country.
The Kazakh Service’s coverage of political, social, economic and environmental issues, epitomized in its coverage of violent clashes in Zhanaozen and the resulting trials and aftermath, demonstrated its role as an essential source of independent and verifiable information dedicated to local news in the Kazakh language.
The Belarus Service is a leading innovator at RFE/RL, continually pioneering new platforms to provide audiences with access to news, satire, investigative reports and vigorous policy debate. The service published another book in a series celebrating the country’s human rights defenders. A prison manual published by the service was a survival manual for listeners behind bars.
Radio Azatliq’s prominence as Azerbaijan’s leading provider of independent news received a boost earlier in the year with an exposé capturing police taking bribes on film. After the video went viral the officers were fired. The service’s Corruption Meter and investigative reports on the financial holdings of the ruling family added to its reputation as a source of intrepid, public interest journalism.
The Russian Service reported extensively on the societal ferment that accompanied Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency. Covering major opposition protests, the verdict against the musicians of “Pussy Riot”, and the ban on adoptions by Americans, the service drew on its vast freelance network and depth of experience. Because virtually all international radio delivery ended due to a change in law, the Service began pursuing an enhanced digital strategy to bring together Russia’s atomized society through multimedia, web-based content from across regions and social strata.
The Ukrainian Service delivered high-profile and high-impact coverage of the October parliamentary elections to as many as one million users on a mix of platforms, showcasing a decisive shift toward a digital distribution strategy. For days after the polls closed correspondents remained on the spot, broadcasting direct from a precinct where a balloting dispute raged, setting a new standard for live coverage and access.
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.