Belarus profile - Media

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image captionOfficial 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) ranked Belarus 155th out of 180 countries in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

Freedom House says the government exercises almost total control over mainstream media and that the media law "secures a state monopoly over information about political, social, and economic affairs".

TV is the main news source. The nine 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 6.7 million internet users at the end of 2017 (InternetWorldStats).

The internet is the fastest developing and freest medium, but lags behind TV in terms of reach. The web is used by the opposition to make its voice heard.

The government has expressed a clear intention to control the internet and has introduced legislation to this end. Opposition websites have been subject to filtering.

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

The press

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