Belarus - Media

There were approximately 2,313,000 million main line telephones in service in 1997 with an additional 8,167 mobile cellular phones in use. The Ministry of Telecommunications controls all telecommunications through Beltelcom. In 1997, there were 3,020,000 radios and 2,520,000 television sets. The government operates the only nationwide television station; however, there are over 40 local stations. In 1998, there were 65 radio stations (28 AM and 37 FM). In 1997 there were 3.02 million radios and 2.52 million television sets.

The most widely read newspapers (with 2002 circulation figures) are Sovetskaya Belorussiya ( Soviet Belorussia, 330,000); Narodnaya Hazeta ( People's Newspaper, 259,597); Respublika ( Republic , 130,000); Vechernii Minsk (Evening Minsk, 111,000); Svaboda (90,000); Zvyazda (Star, 90,000) ; and Belorusskaya Niva ( Belarussian Cornfield, 80,000).

As of 2002, there were 23 Internet service providers serving about 180,000 customers. All ISPs are controlled by the state.

Though freedom of the press is granted in the 1996 constitution, the government continues to restrict this right through a virtual monopoly over forms of mass communication and its desire to limit media criticism of its actions. It controls the editorial content and policy of the largest circulation daily newspapers and of radio and television broadcasts and places severe restrictions on the editorial content of independent publications or broadcasts. Local radio and television stations are pressured to refrain from reporting on national issues. Government authorities reserve the right to ban and censor publications presenting critical reports on national issues.

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