Stop Censorship warns that Euronews might be used for propaganda purposes
The Stop Censorship Movement has called on the management of Euronews to note the staffing and editorial policy of their future office in Ukraine. According to the agreement signed on 21 October this is to be created on the base of the National Television Company of Ukraine [NTCU].
The following is the statement issued by Stop Censorship on 25 October 2010
The National Television Company, which is State-owned, is totally controlled by the President’s Administration and by the Head of the Security Service [SBU], Valery Khoroshkovsky who is also the owner of the biggest television group in the country – “Inter”. Following the election of Viktor Yanukovych as President, the management of the TV company was changed, flouting the Law on Television and Radio Broadcasting which envisages the creation of a supervisory council. The General Director of NTCU, Yehor Benkendorf was, until his appointment, a producer in the Inter group, while his deputy, Valid Arfusz was an advisor to the President’s right hand Anna Herman.
Under these people’s management, the First National Television Channel has radically changed its editorial policy. According to news monitoring carried out by the Internews Network U-Media Project, news broadcasts which were previously unbiased and relatively high-quality are now filled with concealed advertising of the government. The channel is a “record-breaker” for the number of violations of professional standards.
The position of the channel’s management is epitomized by a quote from an interview given by Valid Arfusz to the UNIAN Information Agency.: “I believe that the First National Channel must definitely be pro-government. It will always cover the work of the government, present only positive information to the viewers … should support the government, and the government should know that the First National Channel always defends it”.
The Stop Censorship Movement considers it inappropriate to appoint a person with such views as head of the coordinating council of Euronews in Ukraine since there is no guarantee that the Ukrainian version of Euronews will not be used for propaganda and hidden advertising of the government.
Stop Censorship also stresses that the competence of Mr Arfusz in the field of television is questionable since before his appointment as Deputy General Director of NTCU, he was involved in organizing beauty competitions and publishing the tabloid Paparazzi.
In view of the above, as well as the relentless increase in political pressure on the media brought to bear by the government in trying to control the information sphere, the Stop Censorship Movement calls on the Euronews Management to:
- present its Ukrainian partners with strict demands regarding editorial and staffing policy;
- scrupulously control the process of creation and further work of the Ukrainian representative office;
- reject the candidacy of Mr Valid Arfusz and demand the appointment to managerial positions of Ukrainian Euronews of professional and unbiased people selected through open and transparent tender.
The movement “Stop Censorship” was created on 21 May 2010. It is an initiative by Ukrainian journalists and media NGOs aimed at upholding freedom of speech, preventing censorship, the obstruction of journalists when carrying out their professional duties, and violations of professional standards in covering socio-political issues. It has no political ties or agenda. More information can be obtained from Artem Sokolenko at censor[at]gmail.com