Belsat TV was established in 2007 as the very first and so far the only independent information source in Belarusian and on Belarus. Who was behind its founding?
Belsat TV is a channel created for the Belarusian people by independent Belarusian journalists in cooperation with journalists from Polish Public Television. It was launched in 2007 in response to the apparent need for such TV station voiced by the Belarusian democratic community. Indeed, the Belarusian regime does not allow establishment of independent media inside the country, victimizes independent journalists and obstructs the access of the Belarusian population to its language, national heritage and culture.
At present, Belsat TV is the only television station in the world that broadcasts entirely in Belarusian.
The Belsat TV project, financed from the very beginning by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also receives support from the governments of Lithuania, Great Britain, Ireland and the United States. The channel collaborates with Radio Free Europe and Germany’s Deutsche Welle television. Belsat TV has also applied for subsidies from the European Union.
What are the technical parameters of Belsat TV's broadcast? In what territories is it available?
Belsat is accessible via two satellites: Sirius, the most popular TV satellite in Belarus (5 degrees East orbit position, horizontal polarization, 12379.6 MHz frequency) and Astra (19.2 degrees East orbit position, horizontal polarization, 10773 MHz frequency).
The channel broadcasts daily from 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Belarusian time (gmt +2).
It is available on the entire territory of Belarus and also on the territories covered by Sirius and Astra (most territories of Europe). Some programs are placed on Belsat TV's website - www.belsat.eu
And how many Belarusians can actually watch it?
The Belarusian Independent Institute of Social-Economic and Political Studies with office in Vilnius, Lthuania, conducted a survey that included questions about independent media located abroad.
7.3 % of the respondents knew about Belsat TV. It was only three months after Belsat TV’ appearance on the Astra satellite! Since July our channel is accessible through a second satellite - Sirius - which is very popular in Belarus. According to survey results, more than 300,000 homes in Belarus have the opportunity to watch Belsat TV.
Our channel plans to conduct own research on this topic at the end of this year when we will celebrate our 1-year anniversary.
In what ways do you organize news reporting across Belarus?
The news department and studio are located in Warsaw where we receive news from Belarusian journalists. Belsat TV cooperates with a network of independent Belarusian reporters across Belarus. Reporters send materials through the internet, we are able to get "hot news” within 2-3 hours.
The Belarusian premiere of Uladzimir Kolas's Ada Gallery (supported at the 2007 East European Forum) took place in May this year in semi-legal conditions. Then it ran on Belsat TV and thanks to reruns, the film started circulating among people on DVD copies. Does Belsat TV acquire all similar documentaries made by independent filmmakers? How do you get films of this sort?
Documentary films made in Belarus play a significant role in Belsat TV's program. Our channel cooperates with famous Belarusian directors. In most cases Belsat TV becomes a co-producer of the films, for example, Uladzimir Kolas's “Ada Gallery”. We are in touch with Belarusian producers, which helps us to stay informed about film production.
This year you will attend the East European Forum, the East Silver market and the Jihlava IDFF. Will you be looking for films to include in your programming plan?
Yes, our channel is very interested in buying films that would suit our programming plan. We are also open to any form of cooperation with directors and producers.
There will be 8 new Belarusian films available at the East Silver market. Did Miroslaw Dembinski's A Lesson of Belarusian and Music Partisans represent a certain breakthrough in the way Belarusian documentaries are received abroad?
Miroslaw Dembinski is a very good Polish director who knows Belarus and who is able to represent Belarusian topics abroad. On the whole, Poles understand the problems and needs of Belarus and they really try to help Belarusians on their way towards democracy and in the building of a civic society.
Victoria Dunaeva (Belsat), Hana Rezková (IDF)