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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
BBC radio ordered off Russian FM
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The BBC said it would appeal against the decision
The BBC's Russian-language service will no longer be heard on Russian FM radio, after the country's media regulator ordered that it be removed.

The broadcaster's last FM distribution partner in Russia, Bolshoye Radio, said it had been told to remove BBC content or risk being shut down.

Two other Russian FM stations have dropped BBC programming recently.

The BBC's Russian Service can still be heard online and on medium and short wave frequencies in Russia.

BBC executives said they would appeal against the decision.

'Propaganda'

"The BBC entered into the relationship with Bolshoye Radio in good faith," said Richard Sambrook, Director of BBC Global News.

"We cannot understand how the licence is now interpreted in a way that does not reflect the original and thorough concept documents."

He said the licensing agreement allowed for 18% of Bolshoye's content to be foreign-produced.

Bolshoye Radio's owners, financial group Finam, told the BBC that Russia's media regulators required that all programming be produced by the station itself.

A spokesman for the company said management had made the decision without outside prompting and that it was well known that the BBC was set up to broadcast foreign propaganda.

"Any media which is government-financed is propaganda - it's a fact, it's not negative," the spokesman, Igor Ermachenkov, told the BBC.

A BBC spokesman, Mike Gardner, said: "Although the BBC is funded by the UK government... a fundamental principle of its constitution and its regulatory regime is that it is editorially independent of the UK government."

Critics say Russia is taking measures to curb media freedom ahead of parliamentary elections in December and a presidential poll in March.


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