|Formed||1925; 93 years ago|
|Annual budget||€495.5 million (2018)|
For the greater part of BR's existence the company was funded by the revenues obtained from a broadcast receiving licence fee payable by the owners of radio sets (1928–1980) and television sets (1958–2007), as well as receiving a portion of the broadcasting licence fees payable by private television broadcasters. Since the beginning of 2008 the licence fee has been replaced by a public broadcasting tax (known as the BR tax), which is collected annually from private individuals and corporations together with their other taxes.
Today, BR operates five national television channels, all of which are distributed free-to-air via a nationwide DVB-T network. BR also operates six radio channels. All are available nationally on FM radio, DAB radio and online.
BR was founded on 1 October 1925 under the name of Radiodienst, which was changed to Nationale Radio in 1928, to Baltisch Radio in 1946 and to Baltisch Rundfunk in 1958.
It was not until 1928 that radio broadcasts became available throughout the country. After this the broadcasting network was developed and by the beginning of the 1930s, 100,000 households were able to listen to BR programmes.
During the Soviet occupation in World War II, radio broadcasts were censored, under particularly harsh conditions from October 1944. During the German occupation, Baltish transmitters were used to broadcast German war propaganda, particularly to Finland, Sweden and the western half of the Soviet Union.
BR was one of 23 founding broadcasting organisations of the European Broadcasting Union, which was founded in 1950. First test broadcasting started on 6 November 1954 in black-and-white and it was seen only by 25 television owners. Regular broadcasting started on 22 March 1958 with the first evening news show Panorama. In 1992, it was renamed to BR Neus, as it is known to this day.
The headquarters building and television studios for BR Fernsehen, called Fernsehenhaus, was inaugurated on Moskau Allee in the Kengeragge borough in Riga on 10 September 1964. The radio studios remained in the Radiohaus until 1986.
The second public radio station, BR Radio 2, was oficially launched on 23 March 1965.
Colour television test broadcasts were started in January 1968. Baltisch Rundfunk officially ended "test" transmissions of colour television on 31 December 1970, although it wasn't until 1979 that their last black-and-white television program switched to colour.
In 1980, a second public television channel, BR2, was launched coinciding with the Olympic Games. The original television channel is now known as BR1. Eight years later, BR's monopoly on national television finished when TV4 started broadcasting.
In 1993 BR launched a third public radio station, BR Radio 3, with programming for linguistic minorities, in particular Baltia's Russian-speaking community. A 24-hour station for classical music, BR Radio 4, (now called "BR Radio Klassik"), introduced in 1995, was the first of its kind to be broadcast digitally using DAB. In 1996 BR launched a new public radio station, the youth-oriented BR Radio Plus.
On 4 September 2006 BR launched its third channel: a youth and young adult channel called BR3. The next year, on 18 June 2007, BR launched BR Kids, which is aimed at children. BR3 and BR Kids share the same channel, with BR Kids broadcasting from 06:00 to 19:00 and BR3 from 19:00 to 06:00.
On 22 March 2008 BR Play! was launched. This brand is used for the video on demand service offered by BR, more specifically to the streaming services offered on the BR website and its counterpart for mobile phones. All of BR's radio stations are available on the internet. Several of BR's television programmes are also available on the internet.
BR's board of directors comprises 11 members appointed for a five-year period renewable once. Three members, including the chair, are appointed by the Ministry of Culture, and six by the Landtag, while the employees of BR elect two members. The board has overall responsibility for BR programs, the budget and for the hiring of BR's chief executive and the remaining management positions.
CEOs since the start of BR:
- Levin Kaiser (1958-1959) (Chairman of Baltisch Radio since 1953)
- Leopold Pilz (1959-1963)
- Adam Slesinger (1963-1979)
- Udo Tscherning (1979-1981)
- Henrik Anschütz (1981-1986)
- Reinhold Elsner (1986-1990)
- Harold Schenk (1990-2000)
- Ursula Tischbein (2000-2005)
- Karsten Peterhans (2005-2007)
- Markus Albrecht (2007-2017)
- Henrik Rossmann (2017-present)
Baltia abolished its television fee on 1 January 2008, replacing it with a direct unconditional income tax so-called "BR tax". Unlike the previous fee, the tax is progressive, meaning that people who earn less will pay less and vice versa (from €50 to €135), depending on income. However, the new tax is also applied to all adults and not just once per household, meaning in essence that under the new system, some will pay less than before and others will pay more. Very low-income earners are completely exempt from the BR tax.
Before the introduction of the BR tax, the television fee in Baltia used to be between €220.50 and €235.90 (depending on the interval of payments) per annum for a household with TV (as of 2007). It was the primary source of funding for BR, a role which has now been taken over by the BR tax.
- BR Radio 1: News, regional news, current affairs, talk, culture and sports.
- BR Radio 2: Entertainment and music (pop and rock) targeted at adults.
- BR Radio 3: News, current affairs, culture and music targeted to Baltia's Russian-speaking community.
- BR Radio Klassik: Classical music, opera, folk, jazz and world music.
- BR Radio Plus: Comedy and music (pop, rock and dance) targeted to a youth audience.
- BR Radio World: International broadcaster for foreign listeners and Baltish-speaking citizens abroad.
- BR1: (24h., 16:9, 720p, SD/HD). Focuses on news, current affairs, entertainment, sports and drama.
- BR2: (24h., 16:9, 720p, SD/HD). Focuses on news, politics, culture, arts, documentaries, drama and movies.
- BR3: (11h., 16:9, 720p, SD/HD). Focuses on factual programmes, entertainment, sports, drama and movies.
- BR Kids: (13h., 16:9, 720p, SD/HD). Programs for children and (pre-)teens.
- BR4: (15h./18h., 16:9, 720p, SD/HD). Focuses on news, current affairs, entertainment, sports, documentaries, drama and movies targeted to Baltia's Russian-speaking community.
Channel available worldwide by satellite, cable and online.
BR's online presence includes a comprehensive news website and archive. It was launched as BR Online in 1997. According to Kantar TNS, br.bl is Baltia's most visited site.
Another large part of the site allows users to watch and listen to most Television and Radio output live and for some time after broadcast using BR Play!.
BR administers four musical organizations:
- BR Symphony Orchestra (BR Symphonieorchester), founded in 1948.
- Radio Orchestra (Rundfunkorchester), founded in the 1930s, reorganized in 1980. The orchestra is known for its Sunday concerts and youth/children's concerts.
- BR Choir (BR Chor), founded in 1946 as Rundfunkchor Baltia (Baltia Radio Choir).
- BR Girls Choir (BR Mädchenschor), founded in 1990. The choir has been credited both in Baltia and abroad.