The Executive Board of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has suspended the membership of the Belarusian public broadcaster over its complicity in the government's crackdown on opposition.
The Belarusian Television and Radio Company, or Belteleradio (BTRC), has two weeks to respond to concerns raised by the EBU before the suspension comes into effect.
“The EBU has been closely monitoring the suppression of media freedom in Belarus and have consistently called on BTRC, as a Member of the EBU, to uphold our core values of freedom of expression, independence and accountability,” the EBU said in a statement on Friday.
“We have publicly supported journalists at BTRC who have been protesting against government interference. We have also been monitoring BTRC’s coverage and have communicated our concerns to their management.
“In recent weeks, we have been particularly alarmed by the broadcast of interviews apparently obtained under duress. We have also monitored other BTRC broadcasts on this issue which have raised other serious and quite exceptional concerns,” the organisation of European public broadcasters said.
Monika Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė, CEO of LRT and member of the EBU Executive Board, has welcomed the decision.
“Baltic public broadcasters have been raising this issue since last August, as have I in several meetings since becoming an EBU board member last December,” she said in a statement.
“The BTRC has become a propaganda machine of a repressive regime and the EBU should defend its declared values of free media and democracy,” Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė said.
According to her, the suspension is the harshest sanction that the EBU Executive Board can take without the agreement of the General Assembly.