Independent research indicates that by the end of 2008 Russia will have overtaken the UK to become the second largest internet market in Europe, with 40.3 million internet users, and that there will be 7.4 million households (14 per cent.) with a broadband connection. These numbers are rising rapidly, and it is expected that in 2012 there will be 59 million internet users in Russia, and 21 million households with broadband access.
All internet users with a broadband connection should be able to listen to BBC Russian Service broadcasts via its website, as should those with dial up/narrowband connections. All audience measurement research used by BBC World Service is carried out by independent agencies.
In November 2008, the BBC Russian Service broadcast about 45 hours of live news and current affairs programming on its radio service, per week on average, as well as about 34 hours per week of features and other pre-recorded programming, of which about three hours were original production and the remaining hours repeats. Some of this programming would have incorporated themes from the news and current affairs output.
Comparable figures for 1988 and 1998 could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, since 2004, the BBC Russian Service has focused increasingly on strengthening its news and current affairs programming, particularly at key audience listening times, in line with BBC World Service objectives and in order to increase impact with audiences in Russia and the former Soviet Union.
All audience and market research used by BBC World Service is carried out independently. Such research shows that audiences turn to BBC World Service primarily for news.
The most recent audience survey carried out in Russia for the BBC found that of all BBC output, news attracts the largest audiences, and that the weekly BBC audiences are especially heavy news consumers. Independently-produced internet audience figures show that the number of users of the BBC Russian Service’s website increased by over a million in August 2008, at the height of the conflict between Russia and Georgia, to 2.4 million.