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14.09.2010

Either positive coverage or none at all

   

Censorship policy over recent months has been aimed largely at creating a positive image of the government. Monitoring for August 2010

1.  Table 1: The number of items of a socio-political nature which showed signs of having been commissioned (censorship)

Channel

August

July

First National TV – UTV1

113

83

ICTV

104

99

Inter

103

96

«1+1»

100

60

Channel 5

73

41

Novy Kanal

35

29

“Ukraina”

33

26

STB

16

17

 As in July, the “leading” threesome is made up of the First National TV Channel, State-owned, and therefore funded by the taxpayer, Inter, owned by the media magnate and Head of the Security Service [SBU], Valery Khoroshkovsky, and ICTV.

Telekritika notes that the same trends apply also in the fact that these three channels very often cover events linked with the government and extremely similar features with identical infringements of standards (39 such cases in August).

This suggests that they are coordinating the channels at the commissioning of representatives of bodies of power. As in previous months, confirmation of this is seen in the fact that they normally also avoid the same issues or parts of them.

In August the overall amount of commissioned material on virtually all channels rose considerably which may be due to more socio-political activity following the holiday season. Despite this, the amount on STB did not rise, and even fell slightly. The channel is continuing to fairly successfully counter external pressure. There was, however, a disproportionately great increase in the amount of commissioned material on 1 + 1 and Channel 5. It is possible that external pressure increased on the management of those channels.

Table 2: The number of commissioned (censored) pieces of material

Channel

Positive or neutral material about those in power without balance of views

Negative material about the opposition without balance of views

 

August

July

August

July

First National

112

78

4

9

ICTV

101

90

5

8

Inter

99

91

7

9

«1+1»

91

57

6

7

Channel 5

72

41

3

3

Novy Kanal

32

28

1

1

“Ukraina”

31

25

3

3

STB

15

15

3

2

NB The total amount does not necessarily tally with the figures in Table 1 since some material can follow both lines at the same time.

August confirmed yet another trend, this being that censorship policy has been aimed largely over recent months at creating a positive image of the government which is “successfully and determinedly bringing order to the country”.  Despite an overall increase in the amount of commissioned material, the number of negative references to the opposition actually decreased.  Actions and statements by the opposition, as well as any protests by different groups of the population are largely simply ignored. The censors have clearly rejected their previous policy of producing negative material about the opposition. Now negative comment about the opposition appears almost in passing in the actively cited statements of the leading figures in the country – the President, Prime Minister, ministers, members of the ruling coalition, etc. ,

The negativity usually boils down to the refrain that the “new government has inherited a bad legacy from its predecessors.”, “the new government has to rectify the mistakes and crimes of the previous government”. Or there are accusations without balance aimed at grain raiders, journalists and other “enemies of the government”.

A traditional means of imitating government activity is seen in the standard skimpy reports on various types of meetings, councils, etc.

Table 3 The number of short reports providing an imitation of government activity

Channel

August

First National

64

ICTV

56

Inter

45

«1+1»

41

Channel 5

31

Novy Kanal

19

“Ukraina”

17

STB

6

A large number of features with biased selection of facts and opinions serve either to “justify” government decisions, or “excuse” government failures. Most guilty of this are the First National Channel, Inter and ICTV.

Table 4  The number of features aimed at justifying “the correctness” of government decisions or excusing government failures 

Channel

August

First National

21

Inter

21

ICTV

17

«1+1»

11

Novy Kanal

7

Channel 5

5

STB

2

“Ukraina”

1

There was a sharp increase in the number of commissioned items regarding various successes by enforcement bodies – the SBU [Security Service], MIA, Prosecutor General’s Office, customs and excise and tax police. None of these features has any right to be in a news report. At very least the journalists should have not relied only on fairly abstract “information” from the press services or management, but prepared comprehensive material, including asking those accused, their lawyers, etc. More often than not, journalists do none of this.

The censors are clearly trying to overcome the negative image which enforcement bodies have gained recently through their systematic assault on the press, political opponents of the regime and their business, crushing of protest and the latest cases of killing and violence committed by enforcement officers.

Table 5: The number of short (incomplete and unbalanced) reports on enforcement body success

Channel

August

«1+1»

31

Inter

20

Channel 5

20

First National

15

ICTV

9

“Ukraina”

7

STB

5

Novy Kanal

2

Table 8:  The types of infringements committed to carry out a political commission (censorship)

(A is for August, J for July)

Channel

Channel

Infringement of balance of opinions

Infringement of balance of opinions

Infringement of standards regarding full information

Failure to separate fact and opinion

Infringements of standards of accuracy

Infringements of standards of exactness

 

A

J

A

J

A

J

A

J

A

J

First National

113

83

112

81

31

20

25

7

3

4

ICTV

103

98

99

96

31

24

17

9

8

7

Inter

101

96

98

95

26

20

27

9

5

5

«1+1»

93

65

92

60

24

16

25

7

0

2

Channel 5

69

40

70

39

10

5

9

3

2

1

New Channel

33

28

29

28

11

9

7

4

2

2

Ukraina

30

27

31

27

7

3

5

1

0

1

STB

14

16

16

16

1

1

4

1

0

1

2. Information of public importance avoided by the channels

Political commissioning continues to be exercised to a large extent by avoiding issues or aspects of them, including alternative points of view, expert assessments, specific facts or background where this is inconvenient for the government.

Table 9: The number of topics, views, facts or backgrounds avoided

Channel

August

July

Inter

286

248

Novy Kanal

280

227

First National

276

253

ICTV

273

228

“Ukraina”

265

211

1+1

252

207

Channel 5

243

182

STB

238

211

Table 10:The number of protest actions; bans on such protests as well as the action of the police in blocking them and detaining their participants, which received no coverage

Channel

August

July

Inter

34

47

 

First National

33

43

 

ICTV

33

41

 

Novy Kanal

32

38

 

1+1

28

35

 

STB

28

34

 

“Ukraina”

25

29

 

Channel 5

22

31

 

         

The certain reduction does not reflect any greater will to give coverage to such protests – there were simply less of them in August.

The list of protests avoided by all channels is still daunting.

Table 11 The number of times channels said nothing on issues linked with infringements of freedom of speech.

Channel

August

July

Inter

42

25

First National

41

25

ICTV

40

25

“Ukraina”

40

23

1+1

39

23

Novy Kanal

39

19

STB

31

19

Channel 5

26

13

       

It can be seen that the number of times such issues were avoided has risen sharply, as have the number of incidents linked with the assault on freedom of speech. Only Channel 5 and STB occasionally report such events.

This means that a large part of the population never hear of them at all.  (the list given includes a large number of the themes of reports published here under freedom of speech, for example, the court case over frequencies, pressure on the opposition Crimean channel Chornomorska, the disappearance of journalist Vasyl Klymentyev, and others.

Table 12  The number of items of information linked with the deterioration in social standards for the public or specific groups avoided (increase in prices, in the retirement age, etc)

Channel

August

July

First National

62

63

Novy Kanal

59

62

STB

58

51

Inter

57

59

“Ukraina”

55

54

Channel 5

55

52

ICTV

53

55

1+1

50

52

Table 13 Number of items of information about the government’s encroachments on business avoided

Channel

August

July

Inter

18

8

Novy Kanal

18

8

ICTV

18

9

“Ukraina”

18

8

First National

16

9

Channel 5

16

8

STB

16

6

1+1

13

6

The monitoring is carried out as part of a project of the Internews Network “U-Meida” on journalist standards. It is being carried out jointly by Telekritika and the Institute for Mass Information.

Abridged from the full report at http://www.telekritika.ua/medialiteracy/2010-08-12/54988

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