Television and radio

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Television and radio

As of 1 January 2012, there were 162 radio broadcast stations and 81 television broadcast stations in Belarus. 23 radio stations and 50 TV broadcast stations were private.

Television channels with news content and nationwide coverage are all either state owned or state controlled (i.e. state bodies own more than 50 percent of the shares). There is not a single privately owned TV channel with nationwide coverage. Licenses for TV and radio broadcasters are issued by the Republican Commission on Television and Radio Broadcasting, the chair of which is the minister of information. Other regulatory functions are undertaken by the information ministry directly.

The only producer of broadcast news is the Belarusian Television and Radio Company (BT). Regional channels produce 25-40 percent of their own programming. They do not produce their own news or current affairs programs, relying instead on news from national channels. Some 400,000 homes in Belarus have satellite dishes.

There are 30 FM radio stations in Belarus, including mainly broadcasting ‘censored’ news and popular music.

There are however radio stations broadcasting from outside Belarus and covering bordering regions with news programmes not affected by Belarusian state censorship: European Radio for Belarus, Radio Racyja, Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Belarus is switching from an analog to digital broadcast television. The process is due to finish by 2015.

The National TV and Radio Company (NGTRK) is the largest media holding in Belarus. It covers almost 100% of media households. Member of the “European Broadcasting Union”.

After rebranding in 2011, it includes three national TV channels Belarus-1 (since 1956), Belarus-2 (former LAD) and NTV-Belarus, and also one satellite channel “Belarus-TV” (since February 2005). It also broadcasts several radio channels: the 1st National channel of Belarusian radio, “Kultura”, “Belarus”, “Stolitsa”, “Radius-FM”.

The only independent TV station is BelSAT channel, based in Warsaw and broadcasting via satellite. Launched on December 10, 2007, it positions itself as the first independent TV which broadcasts in the Belarusian language. It covers the whole territory of Belarus, including rural areas. An estimated 7% of the households watch Belsat (unconfirmed).

Author: Handbook on Belarus for International journalists