Radio Belarus extends broadcast to 16 hours daily

Minsk, 17 September: Radio Belarus has extended its airtime from nine to 16 hours a day, Navum Halpyarovich, the chief director of the foreign broadcasting department of the Belarusian National Broadcasting Company, told reporters in Minsk last week.

The radio station is now delivering five hours of programmes in Russian and Belarusian and two hours in Polish, English and German each, a total of 16 hours of broadcasts and 10 hours of webcasts.

According to Halpyarovich, the broadcaster has launched about 30 new programmes this season, including "Z pershykh vusnaw" (First hand), which features experts' comments on major domestic and foreign policy news; "Z zaly parlamenta" (From parliament' chamber); "Alma mater," which deals with higher education in Belarus; and "Kharavod," a show about Belarusian culture for ethnic Belarusians' children.

Radio Belarus launched its Belarusian-language service in May 1962. The broadcasts were in the Belarusian language and mainly targeted Belarusians living abroad. The station's German-language broadcasts started in 1985 and launched its English and Russian versions in 1998. "Our objective is to provide an objective and true picture of Belarus and its social, political, economic and cultural life," Halpyarovich noted, adding that the outlet now has a clear vision, a set schedule and a mature service. "Our short- and medium-wave radio service reaches virtually all European countries, while our webcasts are available all over the globe," he said. "Airtime is no longer an issue, our main purpose is to perfect our work and make our content as varied and interesting as possible."

When asked by Belapan about the number of the radio station's listeners, Deputy Director Alyaksandr Prokharaw said that although he does not know the exact number, the broadcaster's website, revealingly, gets 100,000 hits every year. He added that Radio Belarus received about 1,000 letters from 35 countries in the first half of 2007.

(Source: Belapan news agency, Minsk, in English 1735 gmt 17 Sep 07 via BBC Monitoring/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)