• November 25, 2016
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Will Kubilius bring Polish television back to Vilnius?

Andrius Kubilius, a former Prime Minister and an ex-leader of the conservatives proposes that retransmission of one of popular Polish TV stations in Vilnius was financed from the state budget for the next year. Kubilius asks for 200,000 euros for the Lithuanian Radio and Television Centre, which would come to an agreement about retransmission with the Polish broadcaster.

“This is not the first time that we propose such solution. It was written and spoken about a lot in our programme, in which we gave lots of attention to the Polish national minority and its situation in Lithuania. During meetings with the residents of Šalčininkai district I talked with them about their problems and I understood that retransmission of Polish television is very much needed in Vilnius” – in the interview with “Kurier”said Kubilius, who in October lost the parliamentary election in the single-circle of Vilnius- Šalčininkai. As he noted, not only in Šalčininkai district, but also in may small towns and villages along the border of Belarus people cannot use cable or online television, they can only watch Russian or Belarussian TV stations, therefore they are ill-informed.

“In such places Russian propaganda strongly influences people. We are doing them a great harm this way. I spoke with them on Polish television and they all say that it is very much needed”, said Kubilius.

After the first reading in the Parliament a draft of budget for the next year is going to be returned to the Government for correction. The second reading will take place on 18th December. This day the Parliament will also choose a date of approval of the national financial plan for 2017.

“A year ago I spoke about this with the leadership of the Radio and Television Centre which confirmed that it is possible to retransmit one of Polish stations and mentioned a price close to what I put in my request. Which channel will it be? I don’t know. We would have to talk with the residents, let them decide. I hope the new government will be rational enough to accept some propositions, since they do not require big amount of money”, said Kubilius.

Meanwhile, Wanda Krawczonok, a deputy president of the Electoral Action of Poles in LithuaniaChristian Families Alliance Political Group in the Seimas during a conversation with „Kurier” said that Kubilius’ promises need to be approached with a great dose of caution.

When he was a Prime Minister, the educational law had deteriorated, the law on national minorities was abolished. His colleague from the coalition in Vilnius closed Lelewel’s Polish school. I don’t know if we can expect any good from him. I don’t know what he’s up to. It may look nice on paper, but how it is going to look in reality? For now, these are only propositions”, said Wanda Krawczonok. Bronis Ropė, a MEP and a deputy chairman of the Union of Greens and Farmers during a conversation with „Kurier” said that these Poles in Lithuania who want to watch Polish television, just watch it.

I don’t understand who needs it, actually. I think that Parliament is going to consider this proposition. It has to be examined what people really need. Such questions are to be resolved as soon as possible. One shouldn’t decide for others what they really need, but should first talk to representatives of local governments and together determine what they need”, said Bronis Ropė.

Edyta Maksymowicz, an editor of the TV show ‘Album Wileński’ and the Wilnoteka portal in an interview with “Kurier” pointed out that Mr. Kubilius’ proposal needs to be discussed with any of Polish TV stations (preferably the public Polish television TVP SA), or it will be pointless.

Every television must have a license for screening of films, TV shows or licensed programs, as there are lots of them eg. in TVP1 or TVP2. Polish television stations, no matter – private or public, of course have such licenses, but only for the territory of Poland. TV stations can try to buy licenses eg. for the Baltic countries, if, however, they were not legally acquired by Russia earlier – Russia usually buys licenses for all countries of the former Soviet Union. It should also be noted that acquisition of such extended rights is very expensive. Of course, one can think of broadcasting such channels as TVP INFO, TVP Kultura or TVP Historia, but they are targeting a smaller audience and they are less likely to succeed”, said Edyta Maksymowicz. As she says, the technical opportunity is great, because Lithuanian television LTR has its own multiplex with a lot of free space where a Polish channel could emerge.

Registration of transmission of a Polish channel in Lithuania is very difficult, but worthwhile. The very idea is not enough though, we need to find opportunities to implement it. We’ve watched TVP Polonia as the only Polish channel in Lithuania for years now, because Poland pays for retransmission of this channel in our country and it is possible due to the lack of licensed programs, the content of the channel consists mostly of Polish productions”, said Maksymowicz.

Translated by Agnieszka Drabik within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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