Not censorship, but hardly the truth
During the election campaign the vast majority of media outlets published or broadcast material on commission. This was the general conclusion from monitoring which the Chair of the Equal Opportunities Committee Oleksandr Chekmyshchev made public during a press conference on Tuesday 9 October.
“Having rejected censorship, a part of the national and regional television channels and newspapers have failed to withstand the temptation of substituting political news with political commissioned features*
He said that most of the news items in the national media which mentioned political parties or figures in them had been paid for and added that only isolated channels had provided traditional television news.
Oleksandr Chekmyshchev believes that this is no less a danger than “temnyky” [the instructions issued to members of the media under the Kuchma regime about what to cover and how, and what to ignore].
The report points to a sharp increase in features during September which had clear or covert signs of having been commissioned. Such signs were the lack of information justification for the news or the artificial creation of such; the overtly political nature of information about a political faction; as well as the low social significance of the information. An example was provided by situations where the presenter asked a hard-hitting question to which the politician responded using a prompt. One difference during these elections, Mr Chekmyshchev said, was that journalists were less prone to expressing value judgments.
According to the report, a number of television channels showed clear political preferences: “1 + 1” in favour of BYuT [the bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko], “Ukraina”, NTN and “Inter” supporting the Party of the Regions, while Channel 5, “Tonis”, “New Channel”, STB, Ukrainian Television Channel One and ICTV endeavouring to present news objectively. There was virtually no effort to distinguish between politicians and public figures.
The monitoring found that none of the major national newspapers maintained journalist standards. “Virtually all publications used value judgments, were far from objective and balanced and actively applied manipulative techniques. There was also widespread use of material which bore all the hallmarks of covert political advertising”.
The monitoring was carried out as part of the projects “Ukrainian monitor”, “Barometer of political advertising” and the “Barometer of informed choice” from 1 August to 24 September 2007. It was supported by the International Renaissance Foundation and the Office of the OSCE Coordinator in Ukraine.
“ the word in Ukrainian has clearly come from “jeans” and is used about material presented as news or news features while in fact having been paid for by a political party or similar [translator]