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26.09.2007

Television channels caught providing political programmes to order

   

Most features on participants in the elections on news broadcasts are so called political “jeans” [commissioned] which indicates corruption in the mass media. This was one of the results of nationwide monitoring carried out by the association “Public realm” and the Committee “Equality of opportunities” from 1 August to 24 September this year.

Head of the Committee Oleksandr Chekmyshev says that both international and Ukrainian experts consider one of the main problems of the Ukrainian media to be the exceptional level of corruption. He calls political “jeans” (coverage for money) one of the forms of this corruption.  

“We thus see that society does not have a social institution which, though mass coverage and by refuting stories can reveal cases of political corruption in structures close to the regime and in business”. He added that the Ukrainian media faced the threat of losing their professionalism as during the times of “temnyki” [instructions to the media under Kuchma on what to cover and how, and what to ignore].  He said that according to information “from reliable sources” that items on news programmes on nationwide television cost “from $100 thousand to $500 thousand”. Such “jeans” are twice as expensive as official advertising.

According to Mr Chekmyshev: news items about participants in the election campaign typically demonstrate “colossal, entirely unfounded populism, mutual recriminations and revelations, as well as absolutely open commissioning”.

According to the monitoring, the Ukrainian media fails to differentiate between the activities of political leaders and public officials. Journalists use less value judgments, however as before direct or covert sympathies can be detected and media effects are resorted to.

The Internet is providing more coverage of this election campaign than that of 2006.  Mr Chekmyshev believes that the present election campaign as presented by the media is much worse that those of 2006, 2004 and 1998.

He says that ways out of this situation include privatizing the media, transparency of media ownership, as well as the creation of public broadcasting.

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