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19.10.2012

Disturbingly misleading monitoring from the State Broadcasting Committee

   

NGOs have reacted with concern at an attempt to use the results of monitoring by the State Committee on TV and Radio Broadcasting [the Committee]  to manipulate public opinion in Ukraine and abroad.

The Ukrainian Press Academy, the Equal Opportunities Committee and the Civic Organization Telekritika have responded to the circulation of data from the Committee’s weekly monitoring of leading nationwide channels around embassies and foreign monitoring missions.  On 5 October the Committee published its results of monitoring of coverage of different political parties on UTV-1; inter; ICTV; 1 + 1; Novy Kanal; STB; TRC “Ukraina”; and 5 Kanal.  The results of their monitoring are opposite to the results of monitoring carried out by the Ukrainian Press Academy, the Equal Opportunities Committee, and Spilny Prostir both before the start of the election campaign and during it.  

Asked by Telekritika why reports about the President and Prime Minister are not considered election PR for the party in power, the head of the Committee Oleksandr Kurdinovych asserted that the President and Cabinet of Ministers are not participants in the election process and therefore monitoring of their coverage is separate from that of political parties.  

The Head of the Equal Opportunities Committee Oleksandr Chekmyshev points out that they distinguish such reports according to whether the person involved is simply fulfilling duties or is engaged in promoting one side.

Please see a recent example of coverage on the State-owned UTV-1 Parallel Media Worlds showing why this position is at least disingenuous.  On virtually every news report on UTV-1 Prime Minister Azarov or President Yanukovych are presented making extremely upbeat remarks about the economy, investment, European integration or similar.

The NGOs are forced to conclude that the State TV and Radio Broadcasting Committee has carried out monitoring for the first time, using its own members of staff without high-quality technical backup and software.  There are two groups doubling each other’s work, meaning that estimates of how many times a political party is mentioned are per force inaccurate.

The Committee does not appear to have held any consultations with professional sociologists or other monitoring organizations.

Such results could not hope to be reliable and it is no surprise that they do not correlate with those of NGOs.

This is not, however, the end of the story.  While the Committee apparently acknowledges its limited experience and expertise with regard to monitoring, this did not stop it sending material around to embassies and other international bodies.

In a report of the Committee’s monitoring sent to the Canadian Embassy, t was asserted that the monitoring had found that opposition parties were given 1.5 times the coverage of pro-government.  The full report can be found here http://comin.kmu.gov.ua/control/uk/publish/category/system?cat_id=92973

This places a somewhat different complexion on the situation and the NGOs state the following.

1.  From a methodological point of view the State TV and Radio Broadcasting Committee’s monitoring is totally unqualified. This is flagrant falsification, aimed at discrediting independent monitoring missions and misleading the international community and observers.

2.  The circulation by the Foreign Ministry of the State Committee’s monitoring discredits Ukraine in the eyes of the world community since it demonstrates systemic inability by a range of public bodies to act in accordance with democratic standards and properly fulfil the functions they have been entrusted with.

From a report at Telekritika

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