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Russia has updated its system of time-shifted broadcasts inherited from the Soviet era

The national radio and TV channels used to broadcast a Moscow version for European Russia and four additional time-shifted versions for areas further east. So, five different versions in total (it was a total of four versions until the late 1970s or early 80s). But as Russia has 11 time zones this meant that each time-shifted version had to cover two or three different time zones.  The time-shifted versions were known as “Orbita” or “Dubl” (Double). Orbita-1 covered the far east of the country (8 and 9 hours ahead of Moscow). Orbita-2 covered the time zones 6 and 7 hours ahead of Moscow. Orbita-3 was Moscow plus 4 and 5 hours. Orbita-4 was Moscow plus 2 and 3 hours. The Moscow version covered the Moscow time zone and the zones one hour behind and ahead of it. (The exact details varied over the years as Russia reorganised its time zones.)  This has now been changed so that each of Russia’s 11 time zones now has its own time-shifted broadcast zone. The new system was introduced in time for Putin’s New Year message to be broadcast at 2355 local time in each zone on 31 December 2018. In earlier years, some viewers might have seen the message an hour early or late. With the end (more or less) of Russian broadcasting on shortwave and mediumwave this is now somewhat academic news for DXers. Older readers though may remember the various time-shifted versions of the USSR’s First Programme radio.  Trivia point: In internal BBCMS documentation we didn’t refer to Orbita 1/2/3/4 but to M1A (furthest east), M1B, M1C and M1D, with M1 (with no suffix letter) being the First Programme service for the Moscow zone. In 1981-83 I worked in the team that had to try to pick up the SSB feeders from Moscow carrying the various Orbita versions. It was almost impossible to find a reliable feed for Orbita 1 (M1A), but Orbita 4 (M1D) feeding the Urals was generally very good. I remember it being on 16330.  The idea behind listening to the Orbita versions was that you could hear pre-recorded programmes several hours before they were broadcast to the audience in Moscow.   (Chris Greenway via bdxc io group)

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