TV Channels grossly violate journalist standards in coverage of Tymoshenko murder charges


Left: Prosecutor General Pshonka

Telekritika’s monitoring of the main national television channels between 21 and 26 January found serious violations of journalist standards in coverage of the charges against imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko of complicity in the 1996 murder of MP and Donetsk businessman Eugene Shcherban.

Telekritika’s monitoring registers material on socio-political topics which bear the hallmarks of being commissioned (or censorship), as well as cases where topics of public importance are avoided.

As has been consistently the case since 2010 the State-owned television channel UTV-1 was the worst offender, thought the gap between it and other channels was especially dramatic. With respect to material which appeared commissioned, UTV-1 had 30; 1 + 1 – 19; ICTV – 14; TRC Ukraina – 14; 5 Kanal – 13; STB – 8; Inter – 7; Novy Kanal – 5 and TVi – 4.

Unfortunately a main factor in the enormous divide between UTV-1 and the others may prove only very temporary. The  good showing for Inter was an extremely recent development – for a very long time Inter and UTV-1 were vying for worst offender place.  As reported, after former Inter Media Group owner Khoroshkovsky left the government in November in protest at Azarov’s re-appointment as Prime Minister, there was a noticeable change in coverage.  This is unlikely to continue given the sale of the media group earlier this month to Dmitry Firtash and top Presidential Aide Serhiy Lyovochkin.  The first staffing changes appear to bear this out with Yegor Benkendorf returning to the channel as General Director after holding this post on UTV-1 since soon after the Presidential elections in 2010.

The monitoring found that among the topics with the most flagrant infringements of journalist standards were the accusations against Yulia Tymoshenko of ordering the killing of Shcherban; Kyiv Head Oleksandr Popov’s punishing officials for not clearing snow and ice off Kyiv streets; and the Cabinet of Ministers’s failed cassation appeal over the United Energy Systems of Ukraine alleged debt to Russia.  

Examples of UTV-1 highly manipulative coverage of the murder allegations can be found here

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