Hello and welcome to 94th edition of "Hello, DXers!", our bi-weekly program for wireless media enthusiasts. I am Sigitas Žilionis, chairman of the Lithuanian DX Club BANGA.
Last week two senior officials of BALTIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL came to Vilnius to continue talks about the joint Lithuanian-British broadcasting project. BRI was founded in summer of last year by two Lithuanian and one British companies; its aim is to establish a high power medium wave radio station on the Lithuanian seashore, to broadcast Radio Luxembourg type of programming into Scandinavia. In September, BRI has signed an agreement with the City Council of Palanga, for leasing of 50 hectares (about 120 acres) of land for the new transmitter site. In November, it obtained permission to design a 200 kilowatt radio station at that site; the station was assigned the frequency of 684 kHz medium wave. The company then promised that the transmissions, fed by satellite from studios in Britain, would begin before Summer of 1993.
However, there were almost no signs of activity since then; as Lithuanian daily LIETUVOS AIDAS reported, BRI faced some difficulties in raising necessary funds, due to the present economic recession. The newspaper did not write whether the funds have been finally raised. No activities were seen at the future transmitter site either; as Mr. Algimantas Cekuolis, head of a Lithuanian company behind the project, told me last week, farmers of a nearby village want compensation guarantees for their rye fields, which would be definitely damaged by the construction of the radio station. Mr. Cekuolis also said, that the opening of the radio station had been postponed until November 1993.
Meanwhile a new problem arose on the way of BALTIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL to its listeners. Paul Rusling, head of BALTIC RADIO LIMITED (the British company involved in the project), stated in some of his interviews that the new station would broadcast with as much as 500 kilowatts of power, in AM stereo, using most advanced technology, digital broadcasting! That goes far beyond the terms of the permission obtained by BRI, and people at Lithuanian telecommunication authorities say that such a move would damage reception of the main Lithuanian medium wave transmitter, even in Lithuania itself. As the digital AM stereo technology requires greater frequency spectrum than 18 kHz (that's what BRI applied for), the transmitter operating on 666 kHz is likely to be affected. Lithuania's State Inspection of Telecommunications now considers cancellation of the permission given to BRI until official explanations are submitted by the company.
Another recent development on the Lithuanian broadcasting scene was the abrupt cessation of the activities of the STATE DIRECTORATE OF ECONOMIC AND COMMERCIAL TELEVISION BROADCASTS, a governmental television station in Vilnius, widely known by its on-air name TV26.
This station went on the air at the end of last year, using a 1 kilowatt transmitter located in the center of the Lithuanian capital. Since the very beginning it was systematically attacked by the main governmental broadcasting company LITHUANIAN RADIO & TELEVISION, which blamed TV26 for illegally obtaining governmental funds, and demanded that the government closes down the station, and gives all the equipment to LITHUANIAN RADIO & TELEVISION. When TV26 was founded in 1991, the rightist government allocated 1 million US dollars for it to purchase the transmitter and all the necessary equipment. For that amount of money, TV26 has purchased professional high quality production and on-air equipment, while LRT was still using outdated, mostly Soviet professional and western non-professional equipment.
Recently, when the new leftist government was formed in Lithuania, the management of LRT went ahead with its demands, and on March 24 the government finally issued a decree obliging TV26 to hand over its premises and the equipment to the Government Administration by April 15. The decree does not say what would be the fate of the premises and the equipment, however, it is most likely that it would be handed over to LITHUANIAN RADIO & TELEVISION.