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New TV Program Brings Facts, Not Lies, To Central Asia

Current Time Asia logo (screenshot)

WASHINGTON -- A new, nightly, current affairs program is providing Russian-speaking television audiences in Central Asia with a balanced and compelling alternative to Russian and Chinese-dominated media in the region.

Current Time Asia, launched on September 21, airs on television stations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, bringing original reporting, independent commentary, and informed debate to audiences overwhelmingly limited to state-sponsored news.

The program is intended to address subjects that are of regional importance, but which official media suppress or distort. These include religious extremism, labor migrant and refugee issues, local economic development, border security, and the wars in Syria and Ukraine.

Current Time Asia is produced by the RFE/RL team that created Current Time, which debuted in Russian-speaking communities along Russia’s western periphery last year.

Says Nenad Pejic, RFE/RL’s editor in chief, “The need for independent, verifiable, and balanced information is necessary from one end of Eurasia to the other. The Current Time programs are our attempt to help fill a gap and provide understanding so that people can make informed decisions about their lives.”

Since its launch, Current Time has won distinction for its up-close and on-the-ground coverage of the war in eastern Ukraine from both sides of the front lines. It has garnered 20 affiliates in its first year in countries that stretch from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Nearly two million people in Russia watch Current Time online, with the highest reach found among Russians age 15-24.

In addition to creating Current Time Asia, Current Time’s repertoire now includes two weekend programs, one on Saturdays produced by VOA entitled Current Time Week In Review (Настоящее время. Итоги), and Current Time This Week (Настоящее время. Неделя), a Sunday program run by RFE/RL. An edition of Current Time for audiences in the Caucasus is planned for release in the spring of 2016.