Russian radio broadcasting from Olympics

Autoradio will send DJs to Vancouver for the Games

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TORONTO -- Moscow radio music station Autoradio is sending on-air personalities to the 2010 Winter Olympics to broadcast to listeners of Vancouver radio station AM 650 and back home to Russia.

Brad Philips, vp and general manager of AM 650-parent Astral Media Radio, said the deal will see Russian media group ProfMedia purchase air time from Feb. 12-28 for the live, simultaneous Autoradio broadcasts in Vancouver and Russia.

Philips said he was initially approached by Yuri Kostin, vp of the international affairs department at ProfMedia, with the "out-of-the-box" station sponsorship deal.

"I was for sure intrigued, and it didn't take long before I thought this is a great opportunity for our AM radio station to do something that's part of a world event and that's really exciting," he said.

Astral Media this week secured an exemption from the CRTC, Canada's broadcast regulator, for AM 650 to broadcast Russian-language programming during the Vancouver Olympics.

The temporary license amendment came with strings attached. Autoradio must comply with CRTC rules that include airing a minimum amount of Canadian music, in addition to Russian artists, during the February broadcasts back home, and adhering to Canadian taste standards.

Autoradio, which beams its signal throughout Russia, will see its Moscow-based radio jocks broadcast from Science World in Vancouver, which will house the Russian 2014 Olympic committee during the 2010 Games.

It's still our radio station. They (Autoradio) will play by our rules," Philips said.

As a non-Olympics Games rights holder, Autoradio will also be restricted to covering the Games' atmosphere in Vancouver away from the prestige sporting events.

The role of Olympics radio sportscaster will go to the Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, which plans to broadcast around 1800 hours of English-language Games coverage, including the opening and closing ceremonies, across 77 stations belonging to THE FAN radio network nationwide.

And the French-language radio coverage of the Games will be done by 10 Corus Quebec radio stations, led by the flagship station CKAC Sports in Montreal.