Moscow TV tower fire shuts down channels

Blaze has caused two deaths, THT is sole b'caster available

MOSCOW — Following a fire at Moscow’s central TV broadcasting tower over the weekend, transmission of all national channels in the Russian capital and its surrounding region is off — and it remains uncertain when facilities will be restored.

The blaze, which broke out high up the 1,772-foot tall Ostankino tower Sunday and took more than 24 hours to extinguish, has so far claimed two lives and caused millions of dollars of damage to equipment.

Some speculate that it may be impossible — or prohibitively expensive — to return the Ostankino facility to working order, forcing the Russian authorities to contemplate other long-term replacement measures.

One-channel city

For now, the only channel available in Moscow is THT, the local net station belonging to the Media-Most holding, which also owns Russia’s leading commercial channel NTV. For now, NTV is transmitting its regular news broadcasts via THT, which is available on a decimeter frequency, transmitted from another location.

Other main channels, including channel 1 ORT and pubcaster RTR, remain off the air.

Channel heads are considering transferring transmission to a Moscow reserve transmission tower, and in the meantime RTR is broadcasting via Media-Most’s satellite service, NTV-Plus, which has experienced a boom in subscription applications. ORT is likely to follow suit in the next few days.