Belsat, a Poland-based television channel that primarily broadcasts news in Polish, Russian, Belarusian, and English has announced that it is adding Ukrainian to its slate of languages this week, in a response to the fighting in Ukraine.
Owned by the Polish state media outlet Telewizja Polska S.A., Belsat was founded in order to give Belarusians access to news content independent of the Belarusian government, which heavily censors the local press. Founded in 2007, the channel bills itself as the only independent Belarusian-language station. The channel added Ukrainian-language programming to its lineup on March 8.
The channel’s leadership noted that accessing up-to-date information in Ukraine has become quite difficult in recent weeks due to the war — as a result, the channel will broadcast nightly in Ukrainian beginning at 8 p.m. local time in Kyiv. Recent reports have suggested that Russia may be working to limit Ukraine’s access to “reliable news,” with the British Ministry of Defence tweeting that Russia will likely target the country’s communication infrastructure.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 07 March 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/D3NG9b9zMX
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) March 7, 2022
Belsat is accessible via satellite, meaning that it will not be disrupted if the current military operations affect the country’s internet infrastructure.
“Should the hostilities cause even complete paralysis of the Ukrainian media and Internet, there remains Belsat, which can also be received from the satellite,” said Belsat’s deputy director Alyaksei Dzikavitski. “This means that Belsat cannot be switched off on Ukrainian territory.”
The Polish government has sponsored Belsat for around 15 years, after Polish journalist and the channel’s director Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy set out to create a news outlet that informs the Belarusian populace without the censorship imposed under the Lukashenko regime. While it mainly targets a Belarusian demographic, it also notes that the channel’s mission is to provide individuals with access to free and independent news — which Ukraine will likely need if Russian attacks do indeed damage the country’s communication infrastructure.
“The number of materials in Ukrainian will probably have to be increased over time,” Dzikavitski added. “Especially if Russian troops prevent our Ukrainian colleagues from working.”