• January 20, 2017
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Polish channels in the Vilnius region – “idea doomed to failure” or “positive decision”

From the 1st of June Polish channels will be retransmitted in the Vilnius Region – says Andrius Kubilius, conservative and former Prime Minister. In this respect, opinions of Polish community vary widely – some approve it, while others regard it as a mere political game.

“During its meeting of 18 January, the parliamentary group of 3 May took into account the suggestions made by Remigijus Šerys, Chief Executive Officer at Lithuanian Radio and TV Centre (LRTC) as regards retransmission of Polish television programmes in the Vilnius region, and approved the decision on the retransmission of 8 programmes. The group requested Remigijus Šerys, CEO of LRTC, to continue all procedures related to retransmission, including coordination activities along with the Polish Embassy, broadcasters and Lithuanian institutions, and asked him to keep them regularly informed of the project execution” – says Monday’s press release.

“The group of 3 May hopes that retransmissions of Polish television will have been launched by the 1st of June. It is even more important since, according to many sociologists and political scientists, citizens of the Vilnius region most often watch Russian and Belarusian television programmes, and are not able to watch Polish television, even though Polish is the native language for most of them. As a result, they are immersed in Russian information space. This causes great concern and we believe this decision will provide the possibility for the region citizens to be informed more objectively in their native language, with a more objective image of the ongoing processes” – says Andrius Kubilius.

In an interview for zw.lt Remigijus Šeris, CEO of LRTC says that specific works have not commenced yet.

“We analysed the situation, and what is more, it is technically possible for us to do such retransmissions. However, there are certain legal procedures that should be followed – in terms of licence and frequency. Upon the receipt of information on financing volume we will make another step forward” – explains Šeris.

He adds that discussions with Polish televisions have not been held yet. “We have an action plan, but the most crucial issue that needs to be resolved is the licence. We still do not know which TV programmes are taken into account. We act as an intermediary – create technical possibilities, while the commissioning party is to decide which programmes to transmit” – emphasizes Remigijus Šeris.

The opinions on the initiative of conservative Andrius Kubilius are varied. On the one hand, access to Polish television in the Vilnius region is said to be necessary. Not only because of the fact that among Poles there is a huge popularity of Russian channels that often deliver particular type of information, but also as a result of Russian production expansion in Lithuanian televisions. In 2007 Russian sitcoms and programmes on Lithuanian channels were broadcasted for 80 hours per week while in 2016 – for 151 hours.

“Two years ago the Polish Discussion Club submitted an open letter to the National Broadcasting Council, Polish Television and Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, calling for the resuming of Polish television broadcasts in Lithuania. Furthermore, the discussion was organized. We are glad to see that the idea is becoming more real now. We also appreciate that it was Remigijus Šeris, CEO of LRTC, and not a politician, who stood for the position of unofficial project coordinator. I think that may positively influence the realization” – says Grzegorz Miłoszewicz, chairman of the Polish Discussion Club.

However,  Edward Trusewicz, vicechairman of the Association of Poles in Lithuania is sceptical about the idea.

“If this activity was not strictly political or propagated by Mr. Kubilius, the success would be seen in a different way. Here, though, this is the strictly political activity that may be completed only with the help of political tools, using certain environments and forces. The initiative, even if successful, will not be totally honest” – claims Trusewicz.


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

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