“Generally, this is a step in the right direction. It is a shame that it was taken so late. The situation is really difficult right now” – said Agnieszka Romaszewska, director of Belsat TV for zw.lt when referring to the idea to broadcast Polish televisions in the Vilnius region.
The state-owned stock company Lithuanian Radio and Television Centre (Telecentras) prepared two projects to fight against Russian information propaganda. The first project includes broadcasts of TVP INFO, Kino Polska International and Kino Polska Muzyka International channels, and the Belarussian channel Belsat in the Vilnius area (the Vilnius region, the Šalčininkai region, the Švenčionys region). The second project involves broadcasts of Russian-language information television Euronews throughout Lithuania.
“I would not suggest choosing the Russian version of Euronews because it is very dubious. This will do no good because this belongs to Russia for the most part. The only positive thing is that Euronews sounds good” – said Romaszewska for zw.lt.
Russification or the core of Polish nature
The director of Belsat TV endorses the idea to broadcast Polish channels in the Vilnius region. “When it comes to residents of south-eastern part of Lithuania – the Vilnius region, it has been evident for a long time that they are deeply influenced by Russian television which is easily accessible in Belarus. My colleague showed me that he has access to 7 or 8 terrestrial Russian-Belarussian channels” – explained Romaszewska and added that most often Russian televisions are broadcasted “at a very good technical level” and for this reason they are more attractive for ordinary people. Russian channels very frequently offer entertainment and propaganda at the same time and they do it perfectly so it is really hard to “resist brainwashing”.
It is likely that Polish broadcasts will make people resistant to Kremlin propaganda to a certain extent. “As far as Polish population in the Vilnius region is concerned, Lithuanian authorities have no choice, actually. They will make people subject to russification, or rather sovietization, which means that people will be citizens of the empire deprived of Russian culture, or they will give way to the core of Polish nature. If they fail to do this, they will have a serious problem to solve” – emphasized Romaszewska.
Negligence of Warsaw and modified TV Polonia
She claims that Warsaw failed to take proper steps in that matter as well. “In that respect I blame Polish authorities as well. They have omitted that fundamental problem, the problem of the media, for years. The point is that they should focus on the identity of these people (…). There is no need to import Kujawiak from Kujawy. All that should be done is to preserve the Polish nature over here (…). The Polish nature in the Vilnius region is specific and this is what should have been presented to people to enable them to reach their roots, ensuring the highest quality. Unfortunately, Polish authorities did not put enough effort and money” – claims Romaszewska.
She thinks that it is worth modifying the current TV Polonia channel to fight against Russian influences by making it more attractive. It could be based on licenced broadcasts and films of Polish televisions TVP 1 or TVP 2. “At least the part of licences could be extended at a relatively low cost. (…) Their price depends on the number of viewers and the size of territory. In this respect there could be a problem for Ukraine, but rather not for Lithuania or Belarus” – said Romaszewska.
She put emphasis on current technical opportunities to separate signal to adjust TV Polonia channel to a specific country since Polish community in Lithuania has other needs than Polish diaspora in Chicago.
Ideas of Telecentras
Two weeks ago Telecentras prepared two projects of Polish television broadcasts in Lithuania. The first project includes broadcasts of TVP INFO, Kino Polska International and Kino Polska Muzyka International channels, and the Belarussian channel Belsat in the Vilnius area (the Vilnius region, the Šalčininkai region, the Švenčionys region). Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that there will be free access to the most popular television stations in Poland – TVP 1, TVP 2 or Polsat because these televisions did not purchase licences to broadcast foreign films and programs on the territory of Lithuania.
The costs of Kino Polska International and Kino Polska Muzyka International are as follows: the first year – 14923 euros per month (excluding VAT), the next year – 15123 euros per month (excluding VAT). When there are more televisions broadcasted, back translation tax should be also taken into account.
The second project involves broadcasts of Russian-language information television Euronews throughout Lithuania. The costs of this project are as follows: the first year – 14744.9 euros per month (excluding VAT), the next year – 15344.9 euros.
Telecentras may start broadcasting after the period of 30 days from obtaining a licence from the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania.
Tłumaczenie by Grzegorz Gaura w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Grzegorz Gaura within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.