Russia-1 ( Россия-1) is a state-owned Russian television channel first aired on 22 March 1951 as Programme One in the Soviet Union. It was relaunched as RTR on the 13 May 1991, and is known today as Russia 1. It is the flagship channel of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK). Russia-1 has the second largest audience in Russian television. In a typical week, it is viewed by 75% of urban Russians, compared to 83% for the leading channel, Channel One. The two channels are similar in their politics, and they compete directly in entertainment. Russia-1 has many regional variations and broadcasts in many languages.
Up to 1999, the national channel was plagued by broadcasting problems resulting from its dependence on its local state affiliates (GTRKs) for retransmission of its signal. GTRKs had no incentive to consistently broadcast only federal programming on their local frequencies and would often mix in programming they had produced themselves or acquired from other sources, thus hampering the national channel’s ability to control its own programming schedule at the regional level. The first step leading to the solution of this problem was the creation of the state holding company VGTRK, which united 89 state-owned regional studios under the aegis of the Moscow-based Channel 2. In February 2004, the Russian government issued a resolution on the reorganization of VGTRK through affiliation of subsidiaries, including regional GTRK companies. By the end of 2004, the scale of the reorganization became obvious. Local news programmes were organized on network principles and local companies turned into "re-transmitters" of the Moscow-produced content: VGTRK management had decided to cut all types of broadcasting in the regions, except news. This decision caused an inevitable reduction of GTRK broadcasting volume from 900 - 1,200 to 590 hours, the closure of whole subdivisions and departments and the dismissal of hundreds of employees in each of the 89 companies.