Dnipropetrovsk: State-owned TV at loggerheads with State Administration
Employees of the regions State television and radio broadcasting company complain of “unprecedented pressure from the authorities, including attempts by the Regional Administration to control television broadcasting". The Administration rejects these accusations and claim that the allegations are based on fear among the management of a financial check.
The television people are holding a press conference today to put forward their complaints and seek support for their stand. They explain that the conflict has been continuing since 2008. They claim that it was then that they first came under pressure from the Administration staff who not only give them instructions on how to cover this or that subject but actually check texts over the telephone.
Head of the News Desk, Lyubov Burlakova recounts:
“Several weeks ago we showed a protest outside the Administration building and the camera showed a banner reading “Bondar must go!” I started getting phone calls from the press service demanding all video footage for the day.”
Director of the regional TV & radio broadcasting company Victoria Shypova believes the root of the confrontation to lie in her personal conflict with the Head of the Regional Administration Viktor Bondar.
In a television broadcast, she stated that Bondar had not just on one occasion called her in and dictated conditions regarding editorial policy, and threatened her with dismissal.
She says that “the Dnipropetrovsk State Channel shows a lot of truth, social feature, hard-hitting programmes. This is really the case since we are an information and analytical state channel and we will show that.”
Representatives of the Administration claim that the statements about pressure are a smoke screen concealing fear of losing comfortable positions. Law enforcement agencies have begun checking the financial state of the state media and how efficiently 5 million UAH allocated from the regions budget for the development of television has been spent.
They claim that they have not interfered, although – they say – perhaps they should have given numerous complaints from viewers including over the Head of the television company. Ms Shypova is a deputy from the “Hromada” party, and they allege that she is constantly appearing in broadcasts “advertising herself and her political party at state expense.”
Officials lack of openness obstructing press freedom
Whatever the truth in this particular conflict it would seem that allegations of encroachments on press freedom are not unfounded. Since last year experts have reported a deterioration in the situation with freedom of speech and increasing lack of openness from officials. The latest study from the Dniprovsk Centre for Social Research stated that local officials are not in a hurry to close the information divide between the authorities and the public, and information work by the local authorities is aimed more at praising themselves than at informing society.
From material at www.radiosvoboda.org