Belarus Government and Media
World Press Freedom Rank: Belarus 153/180
According to Reporters without Borders, in Belarus “critical journalists and bloggers are threatened and arrested, leading news sites are blocked, access to information is restricted and media diversity is unknown.” There will be presidential elections in Belarus in August 2020 and current President Lukashenko’s main political opponent and the most critical voice was jailed. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on June 22 reports “14 journalists were detained and three convicted for their coverage of protests against President Alexander Lukashenka last week.”
Government Influence on Media: In Belarus, most of the press and the broadcasting sector is either directly state-owned or state-controlled. Regulations such as the issuance of licenses for TV and radio broadcasters are not transparent but seems likely to be undertaken entirely by the government through The Ministry of Communications and Informatization of the Republic of Belarus.
Print media is mostly privately owned, however, Human Rights Watch reports that “most of them are not news providers but mainly advertising or entertainment ventures.” When it comes to state-owned media, prominent ones are Belarus Segodnya which belongs to the Presidency and Respublika. Belarus Segodnya publishes “the SB. Belarus Today”, “Narodnaya Gazeta”, “Respublika”, “Selskaya Gazeta” and “Znamya Yunosti ”, as well as the radio station Alpha Radio and the website www.sb.by. National TV broadcasters in Belarus such as Belarus 1 TV Channel, Belarus 2 (targeting youth audience), Belarus 3 (social and cultural), and radio station Radio Belarus are also owned by the State. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko appoints the heads of state-owned mass media. Please see the latest appointments by the President “Lukashenko appoints new heads of Belarus’ central mass media”. Further, there are radio stations broadcasting from neighboring countries. For example, the satellite and online broadcaster Belsat TV, which is funded and operated from Poland. Also, in 2020 according to the state-owned national news agency Belta “The foreign TV channels, Ginger and Teletravel HD have obtained three-year licenses to broadcast in Belarus.”
In 2018, Belarusian lawmakers passed amendments to the country’s media laws which critics say may further increase censorship. In general, the majority of news consumption comes from state-controlled national networks that routinely promote the President. In summary, just like Russia, the state has significant control over the media that results in direct and indirect censorship as well as the promotion of pro-state propaganda.
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