March saw increase in seemingly commissioned news on TV
Monitoring regularly carried out by Telekritika (over one week every month) shows an increase in March in the overall amount of material showing signs of being made to order (censorship) as compared with February.
The monitoring team believes the results may be due to an increase in the number of topics of importance to the authorities
During the week there was a fairly large amount of material mentioning the opposition in a negative light. This was, in the main, subjects linked with the prison conditions and treatment of former Prime Minister and opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko; the report by the investigative commission under Inna Bohoslovska regarding the gas accords; the opposition’s refusal to meet Yanukovych; the exclusion from BYUT of Natalya Korolevska and others.
There was a noticeable increase in infringements over failure to separate facts from opinion on ICTV and TV Ukraina. The trend did not only apply to material identified as likely to be commissioned, but in all material on the channels.
The monitoring also provided an overview of the key socio-political topics presented with signs of having been commissioned (censorship).
For example, on 12 March all channels except TV 5 broadcast material from a press conference given by the first deputy head of the President’s Administration, Iryna Akimova, stating that there was money in the budget to provide for the “social intiatives” announced by Yanukovych on 7 March. Most channels presented the story only from one side and without proper background.
Another example was seen on 15 March when all channels breached standards of balance of views, comprehensiveness of information, and separation of facts and opinion, in covering the unproductive vote for Human Rights Ombudsperson (in which neither candidate received enough votes). None of the channels gave full background about the two candidates: Yevhen Zakharov and Valeria Lutkovska.
On 17 March, there were signs of commissioned material and failure to separate fact from subjective assessment in coverage of the ruling Party of the Regions’ congress and its merger with the Strong Ukraine party.
There was also an increase in the number of subjects muffled, contrasting with an increase in the number of events involved. For example, during that week there were more protests, mainly in the regions; more information about a fall in people’s standard of living or specific aspects of this; information about behaviour by the enforcement bodies against the opposition or individuals, while the channels reported these less.
The channels monitored are: the state-owned UTV-1; Inter; ICTV, 1 + 1; STB; Novy Kanal; TV 5 and TV Ukraina.
The monitoring is carried out by Telekritika with the financial support of USAID and Internews Network.