Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy: Belsat becomes important media institution

On December 10, Belsat TV celebrated the 11th anniversary of the start of broadcasting. The director of the channel tells us what the channel is for her, as well as about achievements and plans for the future.

According to Agnieszka Romaszewska, Belsat TV today is much more than just a TV channel broadcasting in Belarus — it is a large and reliable media institution that can broadcast live for several hours, has a large website in four languages and hosts popular profiles in the major social networks:

“We have highly professional documentary films. This year, our employee, and in a sense, our student, Andrey Kutsila, received the top award at the very prestigious IDFA Festival in Amsterdam for his documentary Summa.”

Agnieszka Romaszewska stresses that this development of Belsat is a huge achievement, given the relatively small resources, technical capabilities and the fact that the TV channel still cannot legally work in Belarus.

The head of Belsat is also referring to Territory of Truth — a series of programs that were broadcast in Russian prior to the Russian presidential electionas — as a special achievement of 2018. One of the branded products of Belsat, which the audience actually loved, was a series of historical programs. This year Belsat created an unprecedented “Intermarium” cycle — a debate of historians from our region of Europe about common historical themes that, thanks to serious, educational content, received a large number of loyal viewers.

“We also opened an office in Kyiv, we strive to cover, in information terms, the territory of almost the entire former Soviet Union. We have had correspondents in Russia for quite a long time,” adds Agneszka Romaszewska-Guzy.

Belsat TV plans to continuously increase its presence in the East and to present the audience with the highest quality information material. This is very important considering the existing intensity of misinformation campaigns in the Russian media.

“It is already clear that thanks to our correspondents we can be ahead of other media in the region. This, for example, was demonstrated by our materials about the tragic fire in the Russian shopping center in Kemerovo, which were viewed by about 8 million people on Youtube alone. So far these have been isolated examples, but we are already able to do such things. And this is our own, high quality information, and not a rewrite of other portals.”

Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy also noted that Belsat TV, in line with world trends, began to use lighter formats in its broadcast:

“We work with lighter forms, we introduce information and entertainment elements. In the program So Be It we combine satire with information and journalism, just like in the animated satirical program Expert. There is also a culinary LifeStyle show I Am Not Eating This. Such programs also attract viewers to more serious topics. Besides, we just try not to torment people with hardcore political stuff only. We are a channel that is trying to convey something serious, but we try not to overdo it.”

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Belsat traditionally seeks to counteract disinformation and propaganda, particularly Russian one, aimed at both citizens of the former USSR and Poland, and further to the West:

“Counteracting Russian disinformation is more than a mission — it is the basis of our work. The entire information space of Russia and Belarus, as well as, to a lesser extent, Ukraine, is saturated with propaganda and disinformation. It is impossible to work on this territory without combating this phenomenon. And we have been doing this from the very beginning. And this is not only exposing misinformation, fake news, but to a greater extent creating one’s own narrative.”

Last year, there were voices that put the future of Belsat TV in question. This year, however, according to the Belsat director, there are no risks linked with financial situation of the channel:

“I think that this year they appreciated how valuable Belsa is as an institution and tool spreading freedom of speech. Finally, it has been noticed that this is not a one-day event or a whim, not a short-term political project designed for instant results, that an influential media outlet has been formed. And I think that this is obvious not only in Poland, but also abroad, for example, in the UK, with which we cooperate.”

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