Vera & Donald Blinken Open Society Archives
Soviet and Russian Television Monitoring
The collection contains 3,874 videos produced in Russian and eight other languages by Soviet Central Television (1985-1991) and Ostankino Television (1992-1994), and recorded by RFE/RL’s Monitoring Unit and successor agencies, totaling almost 840 hours of material. The selected programs portray different aspects of life in the Soviet Union and Russian Federation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with a focus on contemporary key social, political, and economic issues before, during and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, including independence movements, the establishment of a multi-party system in Russia, and economic reform and privatization.
The Monitoring Unit was founded during the early years of Radio Liberty and continued its activities after the merger with Radio Free Europe in 1977. Its primary aim was to monitor radio and later television coverage of Soviet current affairs. The unit also prepared transcripts of news programs were included together with Soviet news agency materials and press clippings in daily bulletins produced by RFE/RL’s Research Institute. Since the monitoring activities were not systematized, programs were often not recorded in their entirety. When the unit was dissolved in 1992, Russian media monitoring was contracted out to the Moscow-based What The Papers Say (WPS) information agency. However, throughout 1993 and 1994, RFE/RL Research Institute staff continued to conduct on-demand television monitoring.