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Richard Robin’s Comments on Russian TV


Completed Blogs

The following blogs come from the Bloggers Den. They are no longer being updated, but the posted entries may still be useful teaching tools.

Sunset House Blog
A little bit of everything

Janet's Yemen Blog
One woman's adventures in Yemen, from September 2005 - March 2006

Peter’s Paris 
Retired Swede Peter Olson created a wonderful blog with incredibly beautiful photos of Paris. Browsing his blog is indeed a magical experience. 

Candice's Blog: (
The NCLRC's Candice Michalowicz, a graduate of the George Washington University, spent her fall 2007 semester abroad in Rome, Italy. While there she created a blog so that she could share her experiences with us. Take a look and see what Candice was doing "When in Rome..."

Catching up from Catalunya: (
Flavia, a student at The George Washington University and former intern at NCLRC, spent her spring 2010 semester studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Read about her life there.

Erica In South America [Érica En Sudamérica] (
This is NCLRC's Spring 2009 Study-Abroad Blog. Erica spent the semester living and studying in Santiago, Chile, and wrote about her impressions of the people she met and the places she traveled to.

Ski Paddle Norway 
Follow James Baxter’s Norwegian adventure - skiing the length of Norway south to north, cycling across the north of Norway to the Russian border, and then kayaking along the coast of Norway to the Swedish border in the south and on up to Oslo. About half of this 6100 km route is above the Arctic Circle.

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"Richard Robin’s Comments on Russian TV"

Russian TV Online
Nearly all of Russian TV is available on the Internet. But with most of three free outlets, you get blotchy images that break up or are totally inaccessible from overcrowded servers. So if you want a reliable, watchable picture, get ready to pony up.
Fortunately you can get a great deal for not much cash. As of late 2006, two services cover the spectrum of Russian television that reaches a national audience. Russian TV Online offers four distinct services:

  1. NTV – a permanent link to Russia’s third national network for free! Well, sorta. Occasional the free version disappears. But RussianTVonline also offers free links to the latest NTV nightlight newscast Сегодня.
  2. The Live Russian TV packet costs $10 a month and includes real-time connections to Первый канал, оссия, HTB, and Спорт. Just remember that “real time” is literal: to watch a show broadcast at 9:00 p.m. in Moscow, you have to be at your computer 1:00 p.m. ET or 10:00 a.m. PT. But you also get TiVo-style access to all the popular shows, available on their server for about two weeks after they were first broadcast.
  3. Delayed packet. If you want to watch Кто хочет стать миллионером in it’s “real” time slot (6:50 p.m. on Channel 1 in Moscow) but with an eight-hour delay so that it comes out at 6:50 p.m. on U.S. East Coast, you can opt for the Delayed packet. It’s also $10 a month. You also get the recorded shows as with the Live packet.

Technical requirements. You need a broadband connection. You will also have to install the latest version of RealPlayer with the security settings as per RussianTVonline’s instructions. (Real Alternative will not work.)

Quality. The video comes it at between 500 and 700 Kbps. When viewed on a standard-definition television monitor (something beyond the technical abilities of most users — see Recording below), the resulting picture has about the quality of VHS. That far exceeds most video on the Web as of this writing. However, such quality comes at a virtual cost. At rush hour (about 8-10 p.m. ET) the entire Internet is stressed, and even with a fast connection, you might find the picture stalls a bit. Plus, if you have broadband at home but you’re sharing your connection over a local network, then you have to factor in who else is doing what with the connection. So if you’re competing for Internet resources with, say, a teenager in the house who is furiously downloading the entire discography of Shakira, your picture will stutter significantly. Solution: watch the recorded shows; put the player on pause and let the show start downloading to get a head-start. Then start the broadcast playing.

Recording. If you want to record shows for playback a few months from now, you have your work cut out for you. The RealPlayer settings that RussianTVOnline uses pretty much nix any possibilities of capturing the stream directly to disk. Freeware stream capture programs such as MPEGStream and HiNet did not work for me, and I have not tried Camtasia (~$300). Still, you can record by converting your computer’s RGB output to AV and hooking up a VCR or DVR. RGB-to-AV converters are available for about $100 at Radio Shack and on the Web.

Webtelek Plus
Latest update (11/15/07)

For $15 a month, you get twelve nationally broadcasts Russian channels with an eight-hour delay from Moscow Time to match U.S. East Coast prime time. So Vremya, broadcast at 9:00 p.m. in Moscow is shown at 9:00 p.m. ET. But be careful: the eight-hour delay is approximate. The shows can be a few minutes off — sometimes a few minutes too early! The package includes Первый канал, Россия, Moscow’s ТВЦ, Культура, Спорт, HTB, Муз ТВ (the local competitor to MTV-Russia), CTC (local entertainment and lots of dubbed American shows), THT (lots of movies), RenTV (probably the only remaining TV channel that can claim some independence), Ностальгия (rebroadcasts from Communist times for the nostalgic set), and Детский мир (Kids’ flicks, which are really easy to understand). For an additional $3.00 per month, you can add a Russian-language Ukrainian TV package: Т К-Украина, 5 канал, Энтер Музыка, Энтер Фильм, and Інтер+.

Webtelek Plus also archives broadcasts. Their archive is, in fact, more complete than that of like

The Windows Media Video plays at about 800 Mbps and is truly stunning. You can use any player capable of showing WMV. If you convert your computer’s output to an AV or RF signal to show on a regular standard-definition 19-inch TV, a non-techie guest would not notice the difference between Webtelek and local over-the-air TV. But all this requires a reliable connection that at the moment of broadcast is not being used for other media-related purposes (downloading music, talking on a VoIP phone, etc.). Then too even if you have a good connection, the general web traffic you find at rush hour — around 9:00 pm ET when everyone is on the Web (supper time on the West Coast, morning business hours in East Asia) is enough to cause your picture to stutter. A very fast broadband connection can overcome these problems.

Recording. I tried a number of stream capturers. None of them work perfectly. As with RussianTVonline, you could attach a device to convert the RGB video signal to AV and then plug in a VCR or DVR.

- submitted by Richard Robin, Culture Club Internet Editor for Russian

Закон и порядок — преступный умысел and Закон и порядок — Специальный корпус. НТВ.
L ive: most weeknights, 6:55 Moscow Time. Available in the U.S. in archives for up to two weeks after broadcast

Here’s a new twist for Russian TV: not a translation, not an unauthorized knock-off, but a legitimately franchised, localized dramatic series. These versions of Law and Order Criminal Intent and Law and Order SVU take place in Moscow. The characters look a lot like some of the L&O regulars. For example, the Mike Logan (Chris Noth) look-alike is named Loginov. (Cute!)

The Russian incarnation of the show both surprises and disappoints. The best part for students is that large swaths of the show are easy to follow. An entire episode is with easy grasp of a third year class with only a bit of teacher scaffolding. Entire scenes could be used in a second-year college classroom.

Students familiar with American cop shows (or with their constitutional rights) will be stunned at some of what they see. The prosecutors are uniformed. And when it comes time to get a warrant, the police see the chief prosecutor, not a judge. Still, some of the show’s depiction of the Russian criminal justice system looks like it was cloned a bit too closely from the American version. (A number of episodes are rehashes of stateside plots, but localized to Moscow.) Somehow, I don’t imagine defendants telling cops things like Я с вами буду разговаривать только в присутствие моего адвоката! (I won’t talk to you without my lawyer present!) The contentious bail hearing in one episode also seemed a bit forced.

While watching how the Russians depict (or fantasize) about defendants’ rights might be fascinating, the characters are not the USA Network’s “characters wanted.” You won’t see Bobby with his Asbergers mannerisms, or a sardonic Briscoe, or a street-smart Ice-T. And don’t look for any presidential candidates in the cast. Or any Miranda warnings.

- Submitted by Richard Robin

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