The arrival of the east European media

Not content with beating England at football, Russians are transforming the British mediascape, along with Poles, Czechs and Lithuanians. Meg Carter reports on the arrival of the east European media

There are now an estimated 250,000 Russian speakers in Britain and well over a million Poles – enough to merit a personal visit from politicians campaigning for Poland's snap general elections on 21 October. But it's not just Russians and Poles who are swelling the number of east Europeans coming to live and work here, and a burgeoning media group is now seeking to serve them.

In May 2004 the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia – who, together with Poland, are known as "the accession eight" – joined the European Union and got unfettered access to the UK job market.

Between May 2004 and June 2007, 683,000 people from these nations registered to work in the UK, Home Office figures show (although unofficial estimates suggest that the number of eastern Europeans now living in Britain is far higher).

Although Poles remain the largest group – a legacy of historic links between the two countries which were strengthened during the Second World War when the Polish government was established in London – the number of Russians, Bulgarians, Latvians and Lithuanians are growing fast.

Small wonder, then, that entrepreneurs, established media players, advertising agencies and brand owners are queuing up to cash in on the eastern European pound.

The London-based Russian media entrepreneur Elena Ragozhina, founder of Russian-language newspaper London-INFO, was one of the first to identify the potential market represented by the UK's half a million or so Russian speakers.

Three years ago, she launched New Style, a Russian-language lifestyle magazine aimed at affluent expats, part of a stable of titles produced by her firm, Russian Media Company. "When people arrive in the UK they want to fit in with the English way of doing things, but they also want to keep in contact with their traditions and what's going on in their old country," Ragozhina explains.

Bulgarians in the UK have their own newspaper, too. Budlinik has been published fortnightly since 2002 and is a digest of political, trade and cultural stories from back home plus tips on acclimatising to life in the UK. Lithuanians here have infoZONA, while Czechs and Slovaks have Echo Magazin.

But it is the UK's Polish community that is best-served with print media. The morning newspaper Dziennik Polski has an estimated 30,000 readers. Other titles include the weekly Polish Express, published by Fortis Media, which recently launched an entertainment tabloid, Laif, and a glossy magazine, Panorama. Another popular magazine is Goniec Polski.

Dublin's Evening Herald has introduced a Polish-language pullout, the Polski Herald, and other titles, including the Reading Chronicle, have since followed suit.

Traditionally, expat media set up to serve migrants have evolved out of local newsletters created and circulated in areas where new migrants first settle – typically, places close to churches or cultural centres.

The internet has accelerated this process, however, enabling the rapid development of a range of online media – from community websites such as the Latvian portal www.labrit.co.uk and www.pohyby.co.uk, a website for Czechs and Slovaks in Britain, as well as online versions of the Russian London Courier, online radio and even internet TV.

What's more, expats can easily access online spin-offs from familiar TV and print media brands and news wire services from back home.

Interest from Czech migrants living overseas, for example, was one factor in the recent expansion of Aktalne.cz, the Czech Republic's first exclusively online daily news service, which was launched by Centrum.cz in November 2005. It offers multimedia coverage in partnership with Czech Television and Reuters. Internet TV serving eastern European migrants is another growth market. Already, Poles in Britain can access the web channel PL-TV. "This is an information service for what's on and where to go, to help Polish immigrants in the UK and help challenge stereotypes," according to PL-TV.com's editor-in-chief, Tom Tyranowicz.

Radio Orla, one of two Anglo-Polish radio stations – the other is Radio Hey Now – attracts 25,000 listeners a week with programming in English, Polish and Slovak.

The station launched in May last year on the internet, and last month began transmitting on FM following a tie-up with the west London local radio station Hayes FM 91.8, in whose catchment area live an estimated 30,000 Poles.

"We saw an opportunity when the BBC realigned the World Service in 2005 and scrapped many of its eastern European language services – services many eastern Europeans in the UK listened to via the internet," says Radio Orla's managing director George Musgrave, who was born in Britain to Polish parents.

"Today, we are encouraged by the growing interest in what we have to offer, and are now in discussion with Slovaks and Romanians to develop their own radio language services for expats in the UK," he says. "Although, until the numbers of each nationality reach critical mass, the best route is podcasting rather than launching a full-blown radio service."

Established broadcasters, too, are waking up to the changing make-up of their audiences. BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, for example, airs a weekly show called Poles Apart, aimed at first-generation Polish immigrants. The British market for eastern European TV is also growing. Earlier this year, a service called Simply Global TV was set up in the UK, offering eastern Europeans packages of broadcast channels from back home relayed live via the internet.

Meanwhile, a Latvian business called Baltic Media Alliance has received a TV licence from Ofcom for two services: the First Baltic Channel and the First Baltic Music Channel. Although both are yet to launch here, First Baltic already operates satellite channels in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The British research consultancy Ethnic Focus/STRC is one of a number of marketing service agencies gearing up to advise clients on the UK's emerging eastern European market. Earlier this year, the company set up an eastern European research unit and now conducts a monthly consumer survey called Eastern European Tracker.

"The demographics of ethnicity are changing rapidly," explains its research director, Saber Khan. "By 2012, we estimate that 51 per cent of the London population will be from an ethnic minority – and eastern Europeans will account for a significant chunk of this."

For ethnic marketing specialists such as Mediareach, Media Moghuls and the mainstream media consultancy Vizeum, targeting eastern Europeans in Britain involves a mix of community marketing and promotions, postcode-targeted direct mail and outdoor advertising, as well as eastern European language ad campaigns.

Money-transfer services and government departments tend to be the first advertisers to target each new wave of migrants arriving in the UK.

Today, though, high-street banks, led by HSBC and Barclays, and the mobile phone company Orange are actively recruiting staff from and targeting advertising to eastern Europeans working and living in the UK. Meanwhile, retailers including Tesco and Sainsbury are stocking a range of eastern European food products in their stores.

"Media is limited for some of these groups, but growing fast," says Patricia Macauley, head of black and ethnic minority communications at the Central Office of Information, which has run eastern European campaigns promoting the minimum wage and LearnDirect.

"Outdoor is also good, as we can now pinpoint sites down to the exact streets where people live and the specialist shops – delicatessens, for example – that they regularly use."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Report Writer / Reporting Analyst

£25 - 30k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Report Writer / Reporting Analyst is nee...

Guru Careers: German Speaking Account Manager / Account Executive

£24-30K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A German speaking Account Manager ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own