Russian public broadcaster RTR reorganizes its work amid unfolding pandemic
RTR media holding has over 18 000 staff members, 92 regional TV and radio networks throughout Russia from Kaliningrad to the Kuril Islands, and over a dozen bureaus in Europe, Asia, and the USA. Altogether they produce about 300 hours of news content every day. And perhaps the worst news for all of us now is that the COVID-19 epidemic peak is still ahead.
Despite all the precautions, two employees at RTR’s Moscow office have tested positive for COVID-19. Two more regional staff members have been taken to hospital with suspected coronavirus infection. 81 close contacts of people with confirmed COVID-19 have been quarantined. Perhaps, the figures would be different, if RTR hadn’t taken quite severe preventive measures in addition to those imposed by the authorities.
All the employees who are not immediately engaged in live broadcasting are working from home and are obliged to stay at home and to limit contact as well.
By the way, this ‘Staying at Home’ policy has turned into a hashtag which is now being used for all the central TV channels’ programmes.
Anchors at Russia 24, a 24/7 news channel within RTR’s holding, have even written ‘Staying at Home’ on their T-shirts and for over two weeks they have been presenting news from their homes via Skype, in an informal way, wearing just jeans and T-shirts. Their audience greatly appreciates this kind of communication.
These days many talk-shows and programmes go on air with no audience or panellists in the studio. The number of people on the production sets is limited.
Rossiya 1, the leading federal TV channel, has reduced the number of news crews’ members to the minimum. All ‘field’ staff, including reporters, cameramen, sound operators, and drivers, are strongly advised to wear masks or respirators and safety goggles to comply with the health authorities’ recommendations. Every person who enters RTR offices undergoes temperature check; the premises are equipped with hand disinfectant dispensers.