Belsat TV representatives meet with foreign donors

An international coordination meeting was organised under auspices of the parliament’s working group on Belarus at Sejm of the Republic of Poland on Tuesday. Belsat’s representatives and foreign donors had the opportunity to discuss the areas of the channel’s activity, lines of its further development and financing.

MPs, Polish and foreign diplomatic officers were taking part in the meeting.

Making an opening speech, Robert Tyszkiewicz, Head of the working group on Belarus, stated that Belsat TV had gained support of many countries and international organisations. As Belsat TV connects the Polish MPs regardless of their party membership, Poland’s Sejm backs and will be backing it, he stressed.

Zuzanna Kierkowska, the Polish MFA’s official, noted that the television was mainly financed by the Ministry. According to her, it devoted 124 mln Polish złoty (appr. $41.3 mln) in the period of 2007 – 2013.

The joint project of the Foreign Ministry and the Polish Public Television (TVP) attracted a number of funders, the Director of International Cooperation Department added.

‘And this is a very clear sign of support of the Belarusian people’s aspirations for democracy,’ Ms Kierkowska said.

The main problem is that such nontrivial project as Belsat TV fails to fit into common schemes of donors’ supporting NGOs or aid organisations, Belsat TV Director Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy said. As a rule, donors do with projects having definite goals and priorities, and every project is to be completed, unlike a mass medium in its full play which is to be developed further, she stressed.

‘We are very grateful to our years-long donors. Swedish agency SIDA is one of the most important institutions for us because it provides long-lasting financial aid. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has also been backing us on a long-term basis. And we are able to allocate the funds for 2-3 years to come,’ Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy said.

The Polish Foreign Ministry, Belsat TV’s main backer, does not give a fixed amount of money to the channel, this sum is changed every year, she added.
‘We never know whether this sum will be 1 mln zł more or less. When comparing these sums, a number of people engaged, a number of broadcasting hours it becomes quite clear that allocation of money is very effective. This million really counts,’ she stressed.

The Director came up with the idea of establishing a committee of donors, which could ease the process of making decisions, provide the opportunity of monitoring the channel’s performance and accept certain financial commitments.

Belsat TV was launched in 2007. The channel was established by virtue of an agreement signed by the Polish Foreign Ministry and Telewizja Polska S.A. (Polish Public Television) on joint long-term development and financing of Belsat TV. Project ‘Belsat TV’ is an initiative benefiting from special patronage of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project is financed to a large degree from the state budget reserve allocated to support of international cooperation on behalf of democracy and civic society. Belsat TV has been closely cooperating with foundation Wolność i Demokracja (Freedom and Democracy) that acts as a mediator in raising funds for our channel.

Karolina Rusinowicz/MS

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