Russian state action has recently reduced the abilities of independent media to operate freely in the Russian Federation. News mediums have been shut down or transferred to the control of elements close to the government. At the same time, access to publicity has been severely limited for elements critical of the Putin administration. Several reporters have left the country, and some of those who have stayed have been intimidated or assaulted.
A group defending the right of free speech, active in Finland and abroad, has set up a page called REAKTSIYA - REACTION 'Unbiased News Source to Russians' on the American crowdfunding site Kickstarter, on which they are raising 500.000 dollars in funding for establishing a Russian language news portal. In addition to the Internet, news and discussions of the portal would be broadcasted through the Astra 4A satellite, as well.
The group has also approached the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority about the possibility to obtain a license for an analog AM radio frequency, as well as potentially also using the digital DRM standard. If a short-term license is granted for AM operations, the intention of the group is to start broadcasting on a 558 kHz frequency and with 100 kW power output as soon as possible, though no later than in early 2015.
The AM licensing round will commence in the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority with the inception of the Information Society Code on January 1st, 2015, at which time the group can apply for a longer license.
The coverage area of the AM broadcast will reach at least St. Petersburg, but in good radio weather, especially at night, the broadcast can be heard as far as Moscow and Minsk. More than 20 million Russian speakers live in this area.
The satellite broadcast will cover all of Western Russia, the Baltic, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia and Kazakhstan, as well as other Russian speaking areas, in which a total of 200 million Russian speakers live. No license is required for satellite broadcasts.
Portal reporters will be selected from proven defenders of free speech. The spokesperson for the group is Timo Uusi-Kerttula, the founder of the only commercial talk radio station in Finland.
· When the Russian state is aspiring to enter Western media markets by using oil money, us Western defenders of free speech must act. The Russians are a peace-loving people, but if the Putin media machinery is outrageously distorting world events and causing unjustified animosity among the people towards the Ukraine, for example, then the people must have access to uncorrupted news material and opposition views, says Timo Uusi-Kerttula.
· If we can start broadcasting with the help of crowdfunding, then the future of the station will be in the hands of advertisers and donors. A political talk radio station with interesting people discussing democracy will always reach the target audience of an advertiser, Timo Uusi-Kerttula points out.
· Members of the group do not want publicity at this stage, because the Russian fist of peace has been known to reach Western reporters, too, but I am not afraid, Timo Uusi-Kerttula asserts.
The Kickstarter page of the project can be found in the following address: https://www.kickstarter.com/