TVi : Effective Hatchet Job?
TVi has come under siege many times since President Yanukovych came to power. The pretext each time was different: court rulings against questionable licence tenders; tax irregularities; supposedly spontaneous decisions by providers throughout the country to remove TVi from their cheaper deals, etc.
There is general bemusement as to what actually happened on 23 April, but the belief is widespread that this is a new attempt to crush the last more or less independent TV channel in the country.
Victoria Syumar, journalist and Director of the Institute for Mass Information
This is no easy good and bad situation with management pitched against journalists. After all Artem Shevchenko who was announced the new Director General on Tuesday morning is a popular presenter and journalist. He was reported as stating that his aim was to On the other hand, by evening he had refused to allow his colleagues to broadcast their statement, this leading to the declaration of a strike.
Victoria Syumar, Mustafa Nayem (one of the signatories of the statement and also a well-known Ukrainska Pravda journalist) and others all express the view that the events have clearly been orchestrated.
Syumar asks the crucial question: who does the channel most get in the way of? It has long, she says, irritated those in power through its investigations into the scandalous way the President’s residence at Mezhyhirya slipped into private hands, and many other subjects.
She points out that the channel is not a winning concern and no way something that investors would be competing over. Business interest in TVi is not realistic and nobody is about to spend millions so as to close the channel. In a country where private property is not protected, there are plenty of ways of gaining control without the expenditure.
"“The set up is extremely similar to a total circus where nobody can prove anything, yet it’s all clear to everybody. The result needed has been achieved!."
She has good grounds for such concerns, though there remains a chance that her prognosis is excessively negative. Everybody assumed in 2012 that the criminal cases over supposed tax evasion spelled the end of the channel. There was such outcry, that the authorities backed off.
This time the danger is probably greater, given the insidious nature of the events and the degree to which journalists have ended up on different sides.
On the other hand a number of journalists have gone on strike, and the chances of people, both in Ukraine and in the West believing that this is a purely business conflict seem very remote.
See the striking journalists’ statement below