Poltava TV company “UTA” was an alternative to state TV. Now it does not exist
Ludmila Kucherenko, the President of the Poltava oblast media club:
Since 18 June 2003 the Poltava TV and radio company “UTA” stopped to broadcast on the 24th TV channel, on which it had worked for many years.
During the parliamentary election campaign the TRC “UTA” cooperated with Kyiv TV company “TET”. After the election, in November 2002, “TET” handed a suit against “UTA” demanding to pay the compensation equal to 9,300,000 hryvnas for violating the conditions of the contract. The sum of the claim exceeded the actives of the TV company more than in three times. By the opinion of Pavel Moiseev, a lawyer of “Internews-Ukraine”, to whom the TRC “UTA” turned for the legal aid, the demanded sum and other circumstances of the case showed that the actions of the claimant were directed at the destruction of the company. By the way, just at that time the National council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting had to announce the competition for the use of the 24th channel, which was used then by the TRC “UTA”.
Further events confirmed that the persecution of the TRC “UTA” was “ordered” by some influential persons, since on the next day after the claim was handed to the economic court of the Poltava oblast the court issued the resolution about the arrest of the property and bank accounts of the TV company and sent this resolution to the state executive service. The executors fulfilled the decision quickly: on the next day the accounts of “UTA” were arrested (usually this procedure takes 2-4 weeks). As a result, the activities of the company were almost paralyzed.
The TRC “UTA” handed the counter-claim on the acknowledgement of the invalidity of the contract between “UTA” and the TRC “TET”.
The economic court of the Poltava oblast approved the decision on the collection from the TRC “UTA” of 9,300,000 UAH of compensation and 17,118 UAH of legal expenses. At that, according to the words of lawyer of “Unternews-Ukraine” Pavel Moiseev, the court ignored all explanations of the TRC “UTA”, refused to satisfy its counter-claim and announced a part of the decision in the absence of the parties, thus brutally violating the norms of the material and procedural right.
On 12 March 2003 the Kharkov appeal economic court considered the appeal of the TRC “UTA” and acknowledged the contract between the TRCs “UTA” and “TET” to be invalid. “TET” did not appeal against this decision.
Meanwhile the TRC “UTA” handed the documents for the participation in the competition of the National council for the right to use the 24th channel, since the term of their license had finished by that time. At the first sitting of the National council the votes of eight members of the council divided into two equal parts: 4 members voted “for” and 4 – “against”. It is interesting that Lilia Mironovich, the representative of the National council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting in the Poltava oblast and a former referent of P. Shemet, the deputy head of the Poltava oblast administration), who, by logics, had to protect the interests of the Poltava TV company, voted for giving the license… to the Kyiv TRC “TET”, loyal to the SDPU (u). The members of the sitting ignored the fact that the TRC “UTA” had the most modern equipment in Poltava and the many-year experience of work.
In several weeks, at another sitting of the National council, the final decision was taken: the 24th Poltava channel was given to the TRC “TET”. By the way, one of the members of the National Council, who took part in the voting, said: “Sorry, but I shall vote for “TET”, although I like your company more. Yet, a person, who had financed my election campaign, asked me to vote so. I cannot refuse.”
However, there was some hope yet that the TRC “UTA”, which had become really independent after the numerous ordeals with political censorship, would return to the Poltava air, and the Poltava dwellers would have the TV channel alternative to state ones. Yet, the results of the competition for another frequency were the same as the previous time: the competition was won by the Donetsk TV company…
(“Prava ludyny” (English version), Kharkov, November 2003)
Commentary of Vitaliy Shevchenko, a deputy head of the National Council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting:
“This story is lasting for many months. The competition, in which “UTA” took part, was one of tens of competitions that were held at that time. And if one would ask a member of the National Council why he had voted for this or that TV company, he would answer that he did that on the basis of the current understanding of the situation. I, for example, voted for “UTA”, but it was useless because there were only two votes for this company. Naturally, I comprehend that the attitude to “UTA” at the previous competition was unfair. Yet, theoretically, that was a quite new competition, and it was won by one of the pretenders.
(«The Poltava oblast media club, No. 56, 21 November 2003)