The popularity of Ukrainian TV channels is growing in Belarus. Residents not only of the border areas, but of the Belarusian capital Minsk too, have been able to watch them regularly for several years. Serhiy Khomych reports.
[Correspondent] For a long time Belarusians enjoyed only one national channel. Russian TV broadcasting dominated in their country, a habit that had remained from Soviet times. The situation only began to change relatively recently. In the last three years, four Belarusian channels appeared at once, and started squeezing out their foreign competitors. Russian channels are now mainly broadcast by cable networks, and they face significant competition from TV companies from other post-Soviet countries, including Ukrainian ones.
Last week fans of Ukrainian TV were given reason to worry. Reports appeared in the internet that Belarus had banned Inter-Plus. Cable operators were bombarded with calls from the Ukrainian diaspora and many other viewers who had come to love Ukrainian programmes. But it turned out there was no reason to panic.
[Kovhan] The reports spread around some Belarusian sites and even ended up on Russian sites. There was a report that a Belarusian cable operator had had problems getting agreement [presumably from the government] for this channel. But most likely this information doesn't correspond to reality. Our company has experienced no such problems. The information ministry agreed that we could carry out test broadcasting, and I hope it will approve the contract we're going to sign.
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