AIB overview of foreign broadcasts to Belarus

Prepared by AIB media analyst Morand Fachot

The media environment in Belarus is ranked as “Not Free” by independent media watchdogs, such as Freedom House or Reporters sans Frontières (RSF).

The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), a non-governmental, non-profit and non-partisan association of media workers reports that 69 fines were given to journalists in 2017 for working without accreditation for foreign media (mainly with Belsat TV), some 40 fines have been already given this year (as of 02 April 2018).

A number of foreign-based radio and TV services broadcast to Belarus. They include:

Belsat TV, the Polish-based TV channel for Belarus, which will air BBC TV news content in Russian and BBC series; Belsat TV was formed in 2007 by a group of Belarusian and Polish journalists as part of Telewizja Polska S.A. in partnership with Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several European governments. Itbroadcasts nearly 20 hours a day. Its original content is prepared by more than 100 associates from all over Belarus supported by around 80 editors, managers and technicians in Warsaw. Belsat TV has so far failed to register a bureau and obtain accreditation in Belarus. During British Prime Minister Theresa May visit to Poland in December 2017 it was reported that, in an effort to counter Russian propaganda, the UK planned to provide £5m ($7.1m) for the Belsat TV project, with Poland expected to contribute a similar amount.

RFE/RL’s Radio Svaboda (Liberty), which was established in 1954, is based in Prague. It broadcasts 2.5 hours daily and is distributed via radio (mediumwave, satellite) as well as on Belsat TV (30 minutes weekly), Internet (website, mobile, YouTube, social media).

– In 2006, the EU launched European Radio for Belarus (Euroradio.fm). Euroradio’s programmes can be received on FM in some of Belarus’s border regions, via relays on stations in neighbouring countries, in Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. Euroradio is available online and on the Astra 4A satellite.

Polish radio external service Belarusian broadcasts are available on FM and on  mediumwave (Radio Baltic Waves, 1386 kHz) in border regions, as well as via satellite and online.

Radio Racyja, which broadcasts from Bialystok, is funded and supported by Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Polish aid agencies and NGOs, and the US embassy in Poland.

– Russia’s Sputnik has a Belarusian service, which offers online text and multimedia content, including audio.

It is worth noting too, that many Belarusians listen to, watch and consult Russian-language radio and TV broadcasts, and online content from all major international broadcasters (such as the BBC,  Deutsche Welle, RFE/RL, RFI or VOA), and naturally from Russian broadcasters and online media outlets as well.

Related story:

BBC news features on Belsat TV at prime-time