Nearly 100 Christian Radio Outlets in Russia Forced Off the Air Temporarily

Monday, August 14, 2006

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

RUSSIA (ANS) -- All but two of the nearly 100 outlets affiliated with New Life Radio (NLR), a Russian satellite network operated by Christian Radio for Russia with HCJB World Radio as the principal partner, have been forced to go off the air temporarily.

This news has come from HCJB World radio in a news release.

“NLR had to move to another satellite to distribute its programs,” said Mark Irwin, director of HCJB World Radio’s Russia/Commonwealth of Independent States subregion. “This is due to the fact that the satellite distribution slots on the satellite we were using were all bought up by the Russian government.”

At the end of July, NLR learned that it would have to move from one satellite (Eutelsat W4) — the main satellite that carries entertainment programs in Russia — to another satellite (Intelsat 904) “in just a matter of days,” Irwin explained. He added that going back to the Eutelsat satellite may still be an option, “but the costs appear to be prohibitive.”

The news release went on to say, “At present only two affiliates are broadcasting NLR programs — an FM station in Volgodonsk, Russia (operated by Volgodonsk Baptist Church), and KICY in Nome, Alaska. Local technicians in Volgodonsk made the necessary changes immediately while KICY never went off the air since it downloads the programs via high-speed Internet.

“Most of NLR’s outlets are off the air until changes can be made to their satellite dishes. Each unit needs to be repositioned and new reception equipment installed in order to pick up the signal from Intelsat.”

Irwin went on to say, “These dishes are scattered all across Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic states and parts of Europe. The problem is getting to these sites. It could take up to a year before they’re all changed. This means curtailing a lot of effective ministry.”

The biggest impact could be on the downlinks that have been installed in Russian prisons, he said. “NLR has been used to preach Christ across Russia and Eastern Europe and was making an especially big impact as a ministry tool in dozens of local prisons. The prison ministry could come to a halt temporarily.”

Other outlets are in remote areas of Siberia—in tiny drug rehabilitation centers, at distant military sites or faraway churches and Bible schools.

“Making all the necessary changes is a mammoth task, and our staff is very busy,” he explained. “And for some of the more remote sites, the outlets may actually be outside the footprint of the new satellite. We don’t know yet.”

Irwin said moving to the new satellite could also result in a “90-percent reduction in listenership” for certain subscribers who pick up the programs on their personal direct-to-home satellite dishes.

“If somebody is receiving a big satellite television package and New Life Radio is on that package, as was the case, and then NLR goes to a totally different satellite, the listener will have to make a choice, ‘Will I give up my television package so I can follow NLR to a different satellite?’”

He added that this is a “really sensitive time in Russia” with current events straining relations between Moscow and Washington, D.C., and countries in Europe. “Political events and developments between Russia and Western governments sometimes affect ministry in Russia,” Irwin said.

The release concluded, “Since 1931 HCJB World Radio’s passion has been to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Through the practical tools of media and healthcare, the mission is equipping the voices and hands of the growing church. By working with local believers around the globe, ministries have been established in more than 300 communities in more than 100 countries as partners focus on blessings their communities.

“Together with these partners, HCJB World Radio broadcasts the gospel in more than 120 languages and dialects. Thousands of healthcare patients are also meeting Jesus. Believers are being trained as missionaries, pastors, broadcasters and healthcare providers. HCJB World Radio’s desire is to integrate discipleship with practical tools to equip the growing church around the world and see lives transformed.”

For more information contact:
Jon Hirst, Communications Director
HCJB World Radio
P.O. 38900, Colorado Springs, CO 80949
(719) 590-9800