Recent events could complicate the return of Euronews to Belarus.
As previously reported by Broadband TV News, the country’s Ministry of Information excluded the channel in April on the grounds that its licence had expired. Furthermore, it was broadcasting adverts in English instead of translating them into Russian or Belarusian.
Perhaps not surprising, the move was criticised in a number of quarters, not least the European Commission. For its part, according to industry sources, Euronews decided in early May to reapply for a licence in accordance with local advertising rules. The sources add that the channel expected to hear back from the authorities by the beginning of June, though this was prior to the Ryanair incident and ensuing international outcry.
Euronews is currently expanding its presence across Central and Eastern Europe by entering into partnerships and launching localised versions of its service. In Serbia, for instance, it teamed up media group HD-WIN, part of Telekom Srbija, in July 2019 and earlier this year with University Politehnica of Bucharest (UPB) in Romania and Europa TV in Bulgaria. It also launched Euronews Georgia, which is owned by Silknet, in September last year.
Although it has been criticised in some quarters for its involvement with state-owned Telekom Srbija, Euronews remains widely respected throughout Europe for providing generally objective reporting at a time when press freedoms are increasingly coming under threat. Whether it receives a new licence to operate in Belarus remains to be seen, though it is likely to prove more difficult following the Ryanair incident.
In the meantime, we may well see more announcements of upcoming localised versions of Euronews in the CEE region.
Background on the TV market in Belarus can be found here.
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