Latvia ponders exchanging TV content with Belarus

The Latvian Foreign Ministry is working on having Belarusian TV programs on Latvian media, LSM's Russian-language service learned at the ministry in a story published Friday.

Potential cooperation in this area was discussed in a Thursday meeting between Latvian Ambassador to Belarus Mārtiņš Virsis and Gennady Davydko, director of Belteleradiocompany, Belarus' national broadcaster.

The deal could have Latvia ship locally-made films to Belarus, which would in exchange provide Latvia with its own programs, according to Raimonds Jansons, Press Secretary at the Foreign Ministry.

It is not yet known in what language the content would appear on Latvian Television (LTV). Many Belarusian programs are shown in Russian, an official language in Belarus. The programs could be translated or appear in the original. "But it's more likely that it would happen both ways," Jansons told Rus.lsm.lv.

"Co-productions could be made as well, in particular, [programs] about and for young people, as their young people have little idea of how ours live, and vice versa," he said.

According to the Latvian Embassy in Belarus, Belteleradiocompany is eager to meet LTV's boss Ivars Belte to discuss cooperation. Belte was informed over the matter already.

"First [we have to] to conclude a cooperation agreement. The document is quite loose, similar to a memorandum. [..] We agreed that in March we'll be planning a meeting - the Belarusian side will invite us - and we'll be able to sign the memorandum and discuss what we can offer to one another," Belte told Rus.lsm.lv.

Belte said it's difficult to tell whether LTV will broadcast Belarusian programs. It's not clear if the Belarusian broadcaster is not influenced by the powers that be. Accordingly, content offered to Latvia would have to be reviewed prior to broadcasting.

The Latvian State Language law also limits what sort of content can be broadcast, so programs will either have to be subtitled or shown with Latvian voice-overs. 

"We are very open to cooperation, as we would like our journalists to be able to go to Belarus for filming, to be admitted there and receive both technical and informational support," said Belte.

Latvian Television, along with Latvian Radio, provides funding for LSM news portals in Latvian, Russian, and English.

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