‘Principled stance’: Belsat TV to continue broadcasting in Belarusian – Director

On June 5, Belsat TV will air the first episode of the 15-minute show in the Russian language, which does not mean that the channel will stop broadcasting in Belarusian, Director Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy states. According to her, Belsat TV just intends to reach Russian-speaking audience.

The news about the new program on Belsat TV program caused a strong reaction among Belarusian patriots. Should they really be so concerned over the case?

Belsat is not switching to the Russian language. If we ever wanted to do it, such step could have been taken long time ago. Belarusian will remain the main language of the channel, it’s our principled stance. At the same time we have been long thinking about going beyond Belarus and using the Russian language. At the moment, Belsat is available not only in Ukraine and the Baltic countries, but also in Russia. We have a unique team and a lot of opportunities; it would be wrong not to seize them. I believe that if it is within the realm of possibility in the future, it will makes sense to create a separate Russian-language television channel as part of the Polish television. The new program mentioned above is a so-called probing action.

What is the new show about?

It will cover the developments in the former USSR. It will be a test case. The viewers’ response will be very important to us.

Some people predict it will not be able to compete with Russian TV channels…

But we should not compete. We are not part of Russia, in many cases we may have opinions that differ even from those of non-state media broadcasting from Russia. At the same time, broadcasting in the Belarusian, we should not be under delusion that most Belarusians do not understand Russian. It’s like hiding a head in the sand.

Opponents of the Russian language on Belsat TV consider the move as an attempt to find funding for the channel’s further work.

It is an open secret that now it is easier to find donors for Russian-language media, because inhabitants of a huge region speak the language. At that, I always try to convince our European partners that the Belarusian language is also very important and extremely valuable for the existence of the Belarusian nation. But if the channel dies due to lack of funds, I am afraid that everyone will lose, including Belarusian patriots.

Internet users express their readiness to donate money to Belsat TV saying that switching to the Russian language is not necessary…

A TV channel striving for high standarts, broadcasting via satellite, existing in all social networks and having a website in four language versions is a very expensive project; unfortunately, the money raised might not be enough to cover all costs. But we are going to start a crowdfunding project and creating a foundation.

Inha Astrautsova, belsat.eu