Cosmos TV cable operator shows cartoons instead of the programs of the international Russian channel RTVi, featuring information about Belarus
It is not the first case of such filtration since the beginning of March the channel was available to Belarusian viewers. Then Cosmos TV officials explained it by technical problems. What is the matter now?
The program Window to Europe was on once a week (with a two-week break in March) and repeated on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Last weekend the program was announced as usual by a running line in Belarusian, but instead of Window to Europe the viewers saw a cartoon. The same thing happened the next day. A representative of Cosmos TV Aliaksandr Karnaukh said to Radio Liberty: It may be technically our work, I dont know, I cant say for sure, but I suspect that it is done somewhere on a higher level. Most likely, the situation shaped itself.
At the beginning of the year a consortium headed by the German company Media Consulta won the EC tender for organizing independent broadcasting in Belarus. Within the next two years 2 mln euros should be distributed among a number of mass media for organizing subject issues concerning the events in Belarus.
In February two Belarus-oriented projects were launched European Radio for Belarus (everyday 1 hour program in Russian and Belarusian) and Window to Europe on RTVi. Except a few weeks of the presidential campaign, it used to be broadcast on Sundays.
Head of the channel Mikhail Barshchevskiy said that he did not know about any cases of replacing programs with different ones, and attributes that to the presidential election: One of the largest cable TV operators working with us in Belarus informed us about the following situation: there was a phone call from a high-level official demanding to stop our channel. However operators have contract obligations, so if a channel is stopped forever the company may go bankrupt. Still, I do not quite understand what the authorities and the people who represent them fear in this situation, when they keep the viewers away from one of the most popular channels.
Head of RTVi channel Mikhail Barshchevskiy said there might be legal sanctions against the operator, who does not fulfill the official agreements. However, according to Mr. Barshchevskiy, they will have to find out the reasons of such actions.
Anatol Liabedzka, leader of the United Civil Party, said at the meeting with the representatives of the consortium Media Consulta: the project of Window to Europe is worth attention. Still, from the point of view of its efficiency the projects relevance is close to nothing. In particular, he expressed doubt about the 750,000 viewers of the 25-minute program. According to Liabedzka, first of all, Belarusians do not have possibilities for mass broadcasting of RTVi.