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Russian network television didn't interrupt Sunday's programming to report on a deadly shopping-center fire

Source: Meduza
Rossiya 1

On March 25, the “Winter Cherry” shopping center in central Kemerovo caught fire, killing at least 64 people. The blaze started on Sunday, when Russia’s national television networks air their flagship entertainment shows. On social media, Russians expressed surprise that the TV stations didn’t interrupt their programming to cover the deadly fire. In fact, unscheduled live broadcasts have been virtually unheard of in Russia since the 2004 school hostage crisis in Beslan. For example, in October 2015, when 224 people died in a terrorist attack on a Russian passenger plane leaving Egypt, Russia’s national TV networks only changed their programming the next day, after the government officially announced a period of mourning. Here’s how the television networks have covered the deadly fire in Kemerovo.

Pervyi Kanal (Channel One)

Pervyi Kanal doesn’t schedule any news programming on Sundays between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m., when the show “Sunday Time” begins. On March 25, the network didn’t interrupt its broadcasts once, so viewers didn’t learn about the fire in Kemerovo until the evening news program. The segment about the fire lasted three and a half minutes, and it was the fourth story covered on the show (after a review of the recent presidential election and two reports about the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury).

On March 26, the Kemerovo fire was the leading story on the 9:00-a.m. news broadcast, taking up half the show. Pervyi Kanal later announced that it would cancel scheduled programming because of the tragedy.

Rossiya 1 (Russia One)

On Rossiya 1, the first news about the fire didn’t appear until the network’s Sunday evening news program “Weekly News.” Russians in the Far East, however, didn’t see this coverage, as the show was still being recorded when the fire had only just begun. The show that aired in Russia’s European areas covered the Kemerovo fire after a report on the presidential election. A correspondent in Kemerovo reported live from the burning shopping center, summarizing what was known about the disaster at the time. The segment lasted a little more than three minutes.

Afterwards, the station’s “Sunday Evening” talk show also covered the fire. Host Vladimir Solovyov spoke to another correspondent in Kemerovo on live television at about 12:30 a.m. Moscow time.

The cable news station Rossiya 24, on the other hand, reported live and continuously all day on Sunday about the Kemerovo fire, beginning at about 2 p.m., Moscow time, when news about the blaze first broke.


NTV is Russia’s only national TV network with a daytime news broadcast on Sundays. The broadcast on March 25 started at 4 p.m., Moscow time, with a report from Kemerovo that lasted about one minute. The show “Weekly Roundup,” which airs at 7 p.m., was filmed for the Far East before the fire started and did not mention Kemerovo.

On Monday morning, NTV news broadcasts resumed coverage of the Kemerovo fire at 6 a.m.

Story by Mikhail Zelensky, translation by Kevin Rothrock

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