It’s 1 pm, and Current Time America is on the air. The program is one of two stateside productions of Current Time, a 24-7 Russian-language TV channel headquartered in Prague. But this isn’t some Euro import or a start-up aimed at Russian expats—it’s run by the U.S. government. Launched in February, the project is a collaboration between two venerable broadcasters, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. After Russia annexed Crimea, says Daisy Sindelar, the network’s director, “we realized that we were losing a messaging war.”
Mr. Tihonenko and Mr. Mamonov are two of the youthful faces of Current Time, America’s answer to Russia Today (RT), the Kremlin’s propaganda network. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has started a 24-hour Russian-language TV channel to counter the rise of RT and Sputnik, another pervasive Russian broadcaster. Viewers of Current Time in Russia proper cannot be many—it started quietly in October, and is available there only online or by satellite. No cable providers will carry it.
Current Time had its official launch in February. In a world of fierce competition from Russia, China, Iran, and others for the information space, the U.S. government is finally entering the fray in the ambitious and focused way that the current international climate demands. [...] With the motto “Real News for Real People, in Real Time,” Current Times focuses on live news. Russian audiences are used to highly orchestrated news and are attracted to more immediate, unedited content.