Features of the information age

Despite popular opinion, the Internet is not the most popular information source
 According to the Belarusian State University’s Centre of Sociological and Political Studies data, television is the most popular source of information amongst all media: over 60 percent of Belarusian residents prefer it. The level of trust in Belarusian channels is much higher than in Russian or foreign TV, apparently. However, this is no reason to rest on our laurels, as much work lies ahead in this area. “New technological possibilities dictate new approaches to TV development,” Information Minister Lilia Ananich believes. “Television is not merely a TV screen. It involves cables, satellites, mobile platforms, JPTV and a dozen other new elements. With this in mind, technological transformation is to become a key priority in the strategy of national TV development until 2020.”

Serious changes are also planned for printed media. These primarily need to develop their multimedia aspects, while distributing content over all possible information channels and integrating with diverse media platforms. In this respect, the operation of the country’s major media holding, SB-Belarus Segodnya, should act as an example. It does not merely actively develop its Internet resource but also works without budget subsidies.

Equally, most regional newspapers don’t ask for any budgetary assistance. As the 2015 results show, 94 district newspapers achieved profitably. Sadly, however, a tendency towards falling circulation is seen. Delegates at the Information Ministry session believe that a deep penetration of newspapers into social networks (widely popular among the youth) could be of significant benefit to the industry.

The Minister is concerned about the work of printed publishers. In comparison to 2014, 11.5 percent fewer editions were printed and the general circulation has fallen by 31 percent. Moreover, the overall number of printed sheets is decreasing — due to the shift of people’s attention to new IT technologies. Plans for the future envisage the optimization of state polygraphic capacities. This will be connected with modernization of production and efficient use of buildings and constructions. The Deputy Prime Minister, Natalia Kochanova, thanked the Information Ministry for their work, while noting that problems do exist. Ms. Ananich stated that 2015 was a landmark year. Our domestic mass media actively participated in all state events, while journalists managed to find the correct tone when covering the country’s achievements of the last twenty years. The task for the five years ahead remains unchanged: it’s necessary to make efforts to develop a strong and socially oriented country.

In 2015, the Information Ministry expanded its authority. At the beginning of the year, the renewed law On Mass Media came into force, making it possible to control the Internet resources. Last year, access to four dozen sites was restricted, although the work of some of them was subsequently restored when mistakes had been corrected. As Ms. Ananich notes, this was aimed exclusively at enforcing citizens’ constitutional rights to receive full and accurate information.

Improvements aimed at expansion of content and increased presence in the information arena is now a key task of the mass media. Ms. Ananich considers that greater efficiency is the key. This refers to the multimedia and cinema industries as well as television. For example, modern television is much wider than mere TV broadcasting. Tablets, satellites and computers are also means of distributing information. The introduction of HD television is planned for 2016-2020. “Accordingly, an ability to work across all areas is the task for the mass media in the future,” added Ms. Ananich.

By Alexander Pimenov
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