State Tries to Monopolize Subscription
The subscription to printed editions for the second half of the year has already started. However, now the state monopolizes the subscription market.
Since 1 May everyone, who is going to earn money on subscription, is to have a special license. However, the Ministry of Communications hasn’t given licenses to anyone and therefore the state enterprise “Belposhta” is a monopolist.
In the end of 2003 the law on postal connections was adopted. It provides licensing of postal services, including subscription to periodical editions and their delivery to readers. However, the NGOs that dealt with subscription received letters with the demands to “specify their intentions”.
First of all, the Ministry of Communications demanded to present the content of subscription catalogues and separate lists of foreign editions which it was intended to distribute on the territory of Belarus and also specify how the delivery of newspapers to the country will be fulfilled.
All NGOs were warned that they had to have license in order to run subscription for the second half of the year, whereas beforehand every editorial office decided this problem on its own.
Belarusian Association of Journalists has already filed a letter to the Ministry of Communications, referring to the law on press where it is openly stated: “Every editorial staff has the right to independently distribute its edition independently or on agreement with other organization, both state and private. The answer of the ministry was that the organizations had to have licenses for that.
As it became known the sitting of the special commission which is to decide on the fate of private subscription enterprises is appointed on 10 May.
There are also some other aspects of economical pressure on independent editions. The delivery expenses for state newspapers are covered from the budget, whereas independent editions have to pay them on their own.
The prices for printing at state printing offices are higher for independent newspapers. Besides, despite the existence of private companies of distribution, only “Belposhta” has the possibility to deliver post to distant villages.
Besides, it is necessary to remember repeated cases when so called “administrative resource” is used and authorities make different institutions subscribe to state press.
According to Radio “Liberty”