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Peter Carl Faberge

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On this day: Russia in a click

The Shabolovka TV tower The Shabolovka TV tower

10 March

On March 10, 1939, the Shabolovka Radio and TV Broadcasting Center (it owes its name to its location on Shabolovka Street) began functioning on a regular basis. 

Occasional broadcasts, produced by temporary TV stations in Moscow, had already been occurring since 1931. Before it was replaced by the much larger and better-equipped Ostankino Center in 1967, Shabolovka had been the flag ship of Soviet broadcasting. The studio marked its birthday with the broadcast of a documentary on the opening session of the 18th Congress of the Communist Party. As of that moment, the station began broadcasting regularity four times a week, for two hours.

At that time, there were approximately 100 TV sets in Moscow. The first Soviet TV set was designed in 1932, but the most remembered and loved version, the KVN, wasn’t introduced until 1949. It had a tiny screen and the lens inside had to be filled with distilled water in order for it to function. The development of television technology was growing proportionally with skyrocketing interest in television broadcasting. The first color TVs appeared in the Soviet Union in 1967. To compare, in the United States, the first batch of color TVs was sold in 1954.

During WWII, broadcasting was interrupted, but Moscow was the first city in Europe to start broadcasting again after the war.

The Moscow Broadcasting Center on Shabolovka was birthplace of the Central Television Station of the USSR in 1951. Originally, Central Television had only one channel; it was broadcast occasionally, and its content varied each time from music, news or movies to cartoons for children. Only in the 1960s did Central Television add more channels.

The Shabolovka TV tower itself also deserves attention: 150 meters in height, the cone-shaped piece of art seems to be fashioned from fine steel lacework. It was built in 1921, and its creator, Vladimir Shukhov, an outstanding engineer and architect, planned to make it even taller, but the country ran out of steel. A most extraordinary and beautiful building, it is considered the symbol of the country’s television.