Europe

Belarus profile - Media

  • 5 October 2015
  • From the section Europe
Newspaper readers in Belarus Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Official newspapers are subsidised while opposition print media have struggled to survive

Belarus has been heavily criticised by rights bodies for suppressing free speech, muzzling the press and denying the opposition access to state media.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Belarus 157th out of 180 countries in its 2015 World Press Freedom Index.

Freedom House says the "state-dominated mainstream media consistently glorify [President] Lukashenko and vilify the political opposition".

TV is the main news source. The eight national channels are state-controlled. Their main competitors are Russian networks. Most Russian bulletins are not rebroadcast live, allowing censors to remove content.

Belsat, a Polish-funded satellite TV station, has struggled to obtain official registration with the Belarus authorities.

Newspapers owned by the state vastly outnumber those in private hands. Private titles include embattled pro-opposition paper Narodnaya Volya.

There were around 4.9 million internet users by 2014 (InternetLiveStats.com).

The web is used by the opposition to make its voice heard.

However, legal changes approved in late 2014 gave the authorities "the tools they need to systematically block any news sites and blogs that give them problems", says RSF.

Non-state news sites and social networks were subject to blocking and cyber attacks several times during 2014, says Freedom House.

VKontakte is the most popular social network, followed by Russia's Odnoklassniki and Facebook.

The press

Television

  • Belarussian TV - state-run, operates flagship Belarus 1, entertainment network Belarus 2, culture network Belarus 3, sports channel Belarus 5, satellite station Belarus 24
  • Nationwide TV (ONT) - joint venture with Russia's Channel One; state holds a majority stake
  • STV (Stolichnoye Televideniye) - state-run, rebroadcasts Russian REN TV
  • Belsat - exile TV based in Poland, via satellite and internet

Radio

News agencies/internet

  • Belta - state-owned, English-language pages
  • Belapan - private, English-language pages
  • Charter 97 - opposition-leaning site, English-language pages
  • Tut.by - private, news portal