Donbas events are still the main news topic. The amount of paid news has increased on “Ukrayina”, “Inter” and ICTV while STB, First National, and 5th Channel delight viewers with relatively “clean” news. First National launched a series of high-quality videos about elections technologies. "Ukrayina”, on the other hand, set its own record of praising its owner, Rynat Akmmetow, in the news.
September 29, Monday
The main news topic of this day is about people killed in Donbas, where, despite the truce, a war goes on.
At the same time, most of the channels also covered the events around BRT (Broadcasting, Radiocommunications & Television Concern).
On that day, picketers brought Telmanove district court’s decision (Donetsk region) to the BRT. The court’s decision demanded removal “of the current BRT managing director Oleksandr Pivnyuk because Russian TV channels are still broadcasted on Donbas." Former CEO of BRT, Zakharenko, who now considers himself a new managing director, came alongside activists. "1 + 1" used this situation as an opportunity to make a lunge toward political and business opponents: "Inter " pressures the concern .News service under Liovochkin started a dirty campaign against the concern. At first, they were making society think that concern consists of Ukraine’s enemies” (Comment of Oleksandr Pivnyuk, BTR’s managing director). “Ukrayina” states that concern was captured as a result of the raider attack: “Raider attack of BTR took place, these are the results of the previous evaluation done by Security Service of Ukraine and Ministry of Interior Affairs”, “Picketers who included people with huge muscles and so-called group of workers led by ex-manager of the concern, Kostyantyn Zakharenko, came to demand the change of managing team”.
Meanwhile, “Inter" almost openly violates many standards accusing Pivnuyk in treason. First, the host in the studio says: "BRT is a state’s organization that regulates TV- and radio-spheres, and using our money, it shows Russian channels. There are suspicions that it was BTR silencing Russian news “Podrobnosti” and more. Why did patriots kick out Pivnyuk, and who of the officials considers it a raider attack?” “There is suspicion” is a violation of information authenticity principle, and from the very beginning, there are manipulations in the video: “Journalist: ‘Where are you going?’ Activists: ‘We go to fight for the truth’”.
As a fact, “Podrobnosti’s” correspondent delivers court’s decision: “BTR’s lawyer shows the decision of Telmanove district court of Donetsk region. According to it, Oleksandr Pivnyuk is no longer a managing director”. Without giving any references, he contradicts the official statement (which one?) that the decision was made in occupied Telmanove. “But officials are on Pivnuyk’s side since the decision was made on the occupied territory. We found out that on 14th of July, Telmanove was not yet occupied by terrorists. Police also supports Pivnuyk”. The video ends with emotional speech of the journalist; and the speech does not meet the news standards: “Whoever wins this battle, the truth is that the state’s organization pays for showing Russian channels. And the government pretends there isn’t any problem”.
ICTV immediately puts its own accents and uses subjective judgments of the journalists in favor of Pivnyuk and ex-managing director: “Before parliamentary elections, the officials from Yanukovych times seek various methods to return to power. This time, they focused on the only television broadcaster in the country, BRT Concern ","Today [Konstyntyn Zkharenko, former managing director of BRT - TC] broke into BRT forcing current managing director to leave his position. And to be sure, he even ordered a paid protest near BRT."Among all the central channels, ICTV’s correspondent was the only one to actually talk to the protesters. Journalist says: “There are no workers of the organization. Those who came are hiding behind posters and only hint their reasons for doing it”. With this quote, the journalist makes personal conclusions. ICTV shows Pivnyuk’s and police’s comments, but comments of Zakharenko are missing.
First National was the most objective while presenting this topic since it gave different sides an ability to speak up and did not add any subjective evaluations or emotions.
On “Ukrayina”, the greatest violation of that day was the material about Luhansk that was coming back to life. Journalists manipulate the audience and break the golden rule giving terrorists a time to speak: “Luhanks, although slowly, returns to normal life as stated by the city council. The city has already repaired one of the conduits that gives water to residents of the Kombrot neighborhood and Eastern districts. More than seven hundred fifty houses are about to be heated. Despite the shortage of building materials, restoration work continues. In particular, the Children's Hospital and School of Music are being repaired”. Then, there is a comment of Manolis Pilavov, titled as vice-mayor of the city: “We have powered the second line in Krasnodonsk, and then, the city will get electricity. I think there are real results with water, too. The situation is slowly stabilizing. It is clear that people today want improvements to come faster, but it is impossible yet." This man openly urged to support LNR, and then, it was reported he was captured by the terrorists. Now, he works in the City Council that is controlled by the terrorists.
“Ukrayina” always finds some room to report on Rynat Akhmetov’s charity: “In Donetsk, volunteers of Humanitarian Headquarters “We will Help" (as a part of Rynat Akhmetov's Foundation) distributed more than a hundred thousand of food packages. Apart from the food packages that include cereals, flour, butter, sugar, and canned food, humanitarian aid also brought to the city sets of baby food. Assistance is provided primarily to the disabled, people over 65, families with many children, and pregnant women. In addition to the residents, patients and medical staff of city hospitals also receive food. Humanitarian aid will be sent to other cities, too, such as Yasynuvata, Zuhres, Starobeshevo and Dokuchayivsk. "
“Ukrayina” continues its topic from the previous week about alleged political ordering of the former Party of Regions’ deputy Dmytro Shpenov. A resident of Kryvyi Rih filled a suit because “He (Shpenov - TC) had advantages comparing to other candidates during the balloting. Dmytro Shpelov himself sees this lawsuit as a provocation of the political opponents, "- comments anchor in the studio. There is no balance of the opinions in the video. For instance, plaintiff’s representative is given less time to speak, and the journalist uses a comment with unclear explanation: “The plaintiff explained his claim stating that the status of the deputy violated the equal voting rights of the plaintiff. " But deputy gets more time, and journalist does not cut his emotional speech about political provocation: “I have already been a deputy, and I think this case is clearly political because my opponents simply lead an unfair war. "
Remarkably, comment on the same topic was shown by "Inter" on the same day.
Last week, news on “Ukrayina” talked about Tymoshenko’s charity. Now, Nadiya Savchenko, #1 in “Batkivshchyna’s” party, is in the middle of attention: “After topping the list of “Batkivshchyna”, Nadiya Savchenko got higher chances to be released, –the host starts. – The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Anne Brasseur said about it at a meeting with the leader of the political party Yuliya Tymoshenko. From “Batkivshchyna”, PACE has received a full package of documents with charges against Ukrainian pilot and examines it carefully ... ". Also, in this news, Iryna Veryhina was a guest. She used to be a governor of Luhansk region, and now, she is a member of “Batkivshchyna”.
Vilnohirsk and Irshansk GOKs remain in the middle of attention of particular channels. “Ukrayina’s” news states: "In the beginning of September, “Crimean Tita’s” lease of Irshansk and Volnogorsk GOKs has expired. Because of that, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to return them into state’s property”. Managing director of Irshank GOK’s branch comments: “There is a court’s decision to suspend Cabinet of Ministers’ resolution about inventory on Irshansk GOK and Vilnohirsk GOK."
“Ukrayina” links new management of Vilnohirsk GOK to Kolomoyskyi. “Observers who are familiar with the specialities of Dnipropetrovsk business see a close cooperation of Zhurylo with Hennadiy Korban, an old partner and current vice-governor of Dnipropetrovks region led by Kolomoyskyi. There is also a connection with Olha Huhnina who is one of the most experienced and reputable lawyers of “Privat” group”. References to "observers" clearly violate authenticity principle. There is no balance of opinions. For instance, the material does not have neither officials’ comments, nor comments of Ihor Kolomoyskyi.
“Podrobnosti” on “Inter” don’t even pretend to be objective. The anchor says: “There is raider attack at Vilnohirks GOK. We have said many times that this place has been captured with no respect for the laws. Workers lost their jobs and are afraid to come back to work. There are criminals operating the organization, and Ministry of Interior Affairs just ignores them. In order to prevent something similar on their workplace, employees of Irshansk GOK organized themselves in self-defence groups. They expect officials’ decision”.
Ex-deputy from Party of Regions Oleksandr Nechayev also speaks up: “The events on Vilnohirsk are just illegal. It reminds me of nineties when people were kicked out of their working places by some aggressive folk. There is a court’s decision that forbids giving this property to anybody. It is being violated. I tried to talk to Prime Minister since the GOK reached out to me asking to prolong the lease. And? No answer, nothing. The state gets 10 million Hryvnia for the lease, is it small money?” The workers’ comments are very similar, but there are no comments from representatives of the opposite side.
ICTV showed a similar approach: «Ukraine may lose its strategic titanium industry despite having 20% of the world reserves of titanium. It can happen because incomptenet decisions of SPF and the government since they announced the creation of the Joint mining and chemical company. In other words, they took away "Vilnohirsk" and "Irshansk" GOKs from their private owners for so-called state’s benefits. In reality, they took these GOKs away for benefits of people, close to billionaire, oligarch, and Dnipropetrovsk’s region governor Ihor Kolomoyskyi”. This material also violates all of the possible standards of news journalism. Similar materials on different channels speak about some sort of “coalition” against GOK’s nationalization since channels owned by Pinchuk, Akhmetov, and Firtash-Lyovochkin strongly oppose it.
In the video about the statue of Lenin, "Inter" uses comment of Mykhaylo Dobkin, who was not titrated as a candidate from the “Opposition Bloc”, but as a former head of Kharkiv Regional State Administration. He says: "I believe that the guilty ones must be punished. And the country's president has the biggest power in this case because he is the guarantor of the Constitution of Ukraine. If people do not trust the police, if people do not believe the laws, they will begin to defend themselves. "
In another material that talks about medical examination of children, we can see an unexpected (and hidden) advertising of "Sylna Ukrayina". The correspondent says: "If the economy does not work, the charities do. In Odesa, volunteers help migrants from Donbas to settle in a new place. There is an employment centre and charity fund "Assol", too. Volunteers explained how not to become a victim when looking for a job, and what jobs were popular in the region”. Somehow, journalist considered Svitlana Fabrykant a volunteer who, in fact, is a deputy and vice of Serhiy Tihipko. She says: “We really need doctors in Odesa region who can work in the ambulance. There are many professionals among migrants, and they do not even know how much we need them here”.
#1 of “Opposition Bloc”, Yuriy Boyko, also agitates the audience via “Inter”. The journalist says: "It is not the heating season, but a large-scale disaster; and the Eastern region is in the blockade. This is the opinion of opposition politician Yuriy Boyko. Today, he met with people at a glass factory at Lysychansk. Although it is hard to get to the city now since the entries are blocked, Boyko still visited it. He said that the government had to deal with the upcoming winter problems, not the elections.” Then, there is Boyko’s comment: “I am positive that the mines will work. We will do everything we need to do for that; and we will make sure that the mines will work because we will not be buying coal from South African Republic”.
The channel reminded about Vadym Rabynovych, another candidate from “Opposition Bloc”. The host says: “In Kyiv, the victims of Babyi Yar were honored today. [...] The opposition says - it's time to learn from this tragedy”. Then, there is Rabynovych’s commentary: “We cannot let civilians - Russians, Ukrainians, or Jews - get killed. We have to look at the horrors of the past and understand that avoiding such tragedies is very important.” It is important to add that the President, the prime minister, and other officials were there on that day, but the journalist asked only Rabynovych.
“Podrobnosti” also mention another ex-Party of Regions deputy, Svitlana Epifantseva, in order to criticise Ihor Kolomoyskyi and his team one more time. The video says: “The police searched the house of Svitlana Epifantseva. She is a candidate in the 27th district of Dnipropetrovsk region. Epifantseva believes it was a “punishment” of her rivals. Borys Filatov is a candidate in the same district. He is a vice of the region’s governor, Kolomoyskyi. Still, the Ministry of Internal Affairs says that the search was conducted in accordance to the court’s decision. "
After a long period of absence, Oleh Lyashko returned to “Inter”. He threw Korobhrad’s official into the trash. “It is a humiliation for the entire region and Ukraine when people such as Kuzmenko work as governors instead of serving their terms in prison”. The message lacks balance.
“1+1” was the only channel that showed the protest near bank VAB that experiences crisis right now and does not return the money to investors. Also, the channel defended Kolomoyskyi’s “Pryvatbank” the same week complaining that the officials forces state’s companies and organizations to use state’s banks only.
There are suspicions around a big material about influential businessmen in Poroshenko’s team shown on ICTV (“Fakty”): “Poroshenko will entrust professional businessmen and top-managers a task of reforming the country”, “Our President comes from a big business himself, so he involved many people from his circle in order to improve the country. They already are successful, and they understand the necessity to change the existing system” (this is a comment of the expert of the International centre of perspective research). After listing successful businessmen in the President’s team, journalist describes results of their work and difficulties they overcome. The video ends with one of the businessmen saying: “If not us, then who?”. The material has all of the features of paid news.
Thus, during Monday, central channels (“Ukrayina”, “Inter”, “1+1”, and ICTV) had thirteen paid materials.
September 30, Tuesday
The main topic is news on Donbas, only “Inter” chose beating of Shufrych as the top information. On that day, Vitaliy Yarema gave big press-conference about 100 days holding the position of General Prosecutor.
“TSN” on “1+1” continues its anti-Lyashko campaign. This time, it talks about split in the party. The video speaks about people of Vinnytsia who were kicked out of Lyashko’s party without knowing about it, and they also “cannot accept the fact that the battalion Lyashko said he created does not really exist. Now ex-leader of Vinnytsya’s party branch urges people not to vote for Lyashko”. Journalists do not show any comments of the current members of the party, and they only give voice to ex-“radicals”: “Sweet people, think well before joining the party”, and “There is no proof about the battalion Lyashko spoke about. He is just a clown who performs in front of a public”. As a result, there is no balance of opinions.
“Ukrayina”, on the other hand, set a questionable record airing three videos about charity of Rynat Akhmetov.
- “Despite constant fire, humanitarian headquarters of Rynat Akhmetov’s fund keep on working. They provide people with help giving them food packages. In only one district, volunteers spread more than a thousand of them. It is a great help for people who are not getting pensions and often starve”.
- “This year, Ukrainians adopt more and more babies from Luhanks and Donetsk regions. According to Dariya Kasyanova, program manager of “No to orphanhood” (a part of Rynat Akhmetov’s fund), 225 babies from Donbas were adopted during eight months. She adds that orphans from ATO zone are safe now since the fund helped to evacuate them”.
- “Rynat Akhmetov’s Fund” is looking for experienced psychologists willing to work with children who saw horrors of war. There are very few specialists like that in Ukraine.”
Majority of channels that showed Yarema’s press-conference focused on such topics: his son, Heavenly Hundred, and war on Donbas. Still, “Ukrayina” criticised the official and violated authenticity standard as well as did not separate facts from comments: “Since General Prosecutor did not talk with the press for a month, everyone expected sensational truths from him this time. But he was unusually modest since he knew what the journalists would ask him. He read 108 news about his son a day before because the latter became a chief of an important branch of State’s Registration Office”.
Nataliya Korolevska visited “Ukrayina” on that day; and she visited the channel a week before. She openly agitated for her political party “Opposition Bloc”: “We all united to bring peace to the country and protect the people who need protection. And we will make the Parliament listen to the voice of South and East”.
Between her statements, the channel aired official statement of the “Opposition Bloc” about beating of Nestor Shufrych, who is also a member of this party. “We recommend Avakov get out of Facebook and do something about safety on the streets. And Yarema should perform his direct duties, too”. The statement does not contain any concrete information and is just a political PR.
“Ukrayina” and “Inter” also aired news about Rabynovych leading a Jewish organization. “Inter” added Rabynovych’s comment that has no useful information and serves as PR.
“Inter” also took Shufrych’s commentary via Skype. The video is very sympathetic toward Shufrych. “Shufrych states that he knew about the provocation”. Then, Shufrych says: “People from Odesa helped to defend me. Thank you, Odesa. Many thought I would run away. I stayed, and when I get back to normal, I will return to Odesa to talk to people and press, and no one will stop me.” Shufrych’s comments contradict the truth which can be seen on the video. “Inter” also says that in Odesa, there may be many people from different Western regions who were brought there on purpose; but the channel does not give any references.
Then, the news keeps on criticising the officials without any reliable references. The anchor says: “There are horrible roads everywhere in Ukraine, but the only region where they are being fixed right now is Donbas.” Then, the anchor says that the taxpayers will have to pay for the road renovation, and it will cost 4 million of Hryvnia. The journalist also talks about tender for fixing the road. “Inter” then goes on blaming the government for a corrupt tender without providing viewers with basic information about it; and, in fact, this information can be easily found on the “State’s Procurement Bulletin” website.
After that, “Inter” criticises Kolomoyskyi and “Ukrnafta” that owns money to the state. “The state did not receive 1 billion of Hryvnia during the last two months...Experts believe that this way, “Pryvat” pressures Ministry of Energy in order to get a permit for selling raw on its own terms”. References to abstract and unknown experts are violations of authenticity standard. ICTV also mentioned Kolomoyskyi while speaking about Yarema’s press-conference: “There is an ongoing investigation of crimes around “Ukrtransnafta”, connected to the billionaire Kolomoyskyi”.
“Opposition Bloc” still takes a special place in “Podrobnosti” on “Inter”: “Opposition politician Oleksandr Vilkul is at the Black Sea shipbuilding plant in Mykolayiv”. The anchor adds that Vilkul sounds the alarm since the plant is in a complicated situation. “If we don’t stop this now and turn toward our production, then in two weeks we will have hundreds of thousands jobless shipbuilders on the streets”. “Podrobnosti” also show Serhiy Tihipko who is deeply concerned with the engineering problems. Similar video aired on ICTV on that day. This channel also had paid material about political party “Zastup”.
“Inrer” has another hidden agitation for “Batkivshchyna”. It talked about Yuliya Tymoshenko’s daughter, Evheniya, who as a volunteer transported humanitarian aid for the militia. She says: “No one can ignore our problems and our ways to win. We all here believe that Ukraine will win. We have enough power to win”. She is titled as a President of the Association “Social Protection”.
Thus, on Tuesday, central channels had sixteen materials with paid news features. STB, 5th Channel and First National remained clean from paid information.
October 1, Wednesday
The main topic is Donbas events, including the start of the new school year on the occupied territories and firing at Ukraine’s militia.
“Inter” finds an unexpected reason to criticize the government: “Why do we have so much war machines, but children give up everything?” Then, the video states that Ukraine has enough machines for fighting, but the state is not investing enough money to repair them. The video does not show any comments of the officials, and shows only educators and soldiers.
Nestor Shufrych remains on the channel, too. This time, he “does not believe in Arsen Avakov’s intentions to investigation his beating”. Shufrych says: “I want to believe Arsen Avakom whom I know for many years. But after I saw and experienced actions of Odesa’s police, I am very concerned and have doubts. Still, I will try to believe”. Channel does not give any comments of the other side of the issue.
Another heroine of paid material is Yuliya Lyovochkina who is a sister of “Inter’s” co-owner and the candidate from “Opposition bloc”. “Podrobnosti” state that thanks to her, “monitoring committee of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe started working on the problem of annexed Crimea.” Lyovochkina has a long comment where she says that for the first time, the Assembly stated that annexation was illegal.
“Ukrayina” does not stop advertising Rynat Akhmetov and criticizes volunteers’ battalions at the same time. “Ten trucks with humanitarian aid will finally get to the civilians in ATO zone despite being stopped by militants of “Aydar” battalion”. This news has open PR of Akhmetov and his charity: “Fund evacuated 30 thousand people. We do it in seven directions from different cities where the battles still go on.” The video adds that “at the same time, volunteers of the fund return to these cities with food, medicine, money, and things for living”.
When talking about forum in Vienna called “Ukraine in Europe. World and Development”, “Ukrayina”, ICTV, and “Inter” aired similar and meaningless comment of Dmytro Firtash, “Inter’s” co-owner: “We have to take care of ourselves. We cannot be a springboard. We can only be a bridge...The main thing now is to get out of the existing situation”. However, “Inter” added another comment to this one giving Yuriy Boyko, “Opposition Bloc’s” leader a voice: “We, as an opposition, received full support. They understood our plan that was sort of “Marshall Plan” involving European institutes”. Such comments should definitely be regarded as hidden political agitation.
News on “1+1” criticizes Lyashko for the second time in a week. This time, journalists accuse him of stealing a car. The anchor says: “ATO soldiers and city volunteers are positive that Lyashko’s henchmen stole UAZ car from Fastiv city hospital”. The video then talks about Lyashko’s ally taking a car from the hospital to be fixed, but never returning it. Lyashko refused to deal with the issue, called people names, and had eggs thrown at him for the lies. The video lacks balance of opinions.
Yuliya Tymoshenko was very popular on three channels at the same time. “Ukrayina” quotes her: “I think that the government, the President, the officials, and the Minister of Defence are responsible for providing our patriots and defenders with everything they need”. She says almost the same thing on “Inter” and ICTV.
Via “Podrobnosti”, Tihipko’s party presents its project “Voting is the right of everyone”. Tihipko’s vice, Svitlana Fabrykant, says: “Seven steps plan, created by “Sylna Ukrayina”, shows what a person has to do if he or she wants to participate in the elections”. Party “Zastup” also shares an “important” information about field meeting in the village of Omelnyk in Poltava region. “Chiefs of 39 Ukrainian villages came to a mutual solution, and their main task will be the administrational reform”. There is also a comment of the party’s vice Volodymyr Khomenko: “During decentralization process, the main thing is to make village councils responsible, but at the same time, provide them with power to administer their territories”. Both materials are open political agitations.
Oleh Lyashko acted in unusual way this time; he defended Nestor Shufrych. “Podrobnosti” say: “Oleh Lyashko defended activists who beat Nestor Shufrych yesterday. When there are no laws, people use so-called Lynch law. Lyashko is positive that Avakov is responsible for the lack of justice, so he should be in the garbage, too”. Then, there is Lyashko’s quote: “Avakov called activists who beat Shufrych “marginalized idiots”. Today people throw deputies from Party of Regions into the trash, but tomorrow, they will be throwing Avakov and officials like him”. Shufrych’s comment about beating remains interesting on a third (!) day after the events since it appears on ICTV.
“Podrobnosti” gave “Opposition Bloc” more time; for instance, they gave a lot of time to Larin from the party. Larin says: “Opposition Bloc” believes that it is important to lustrate Prime Minister of Ukraine Yatseniuk and speaker of Verkhovna Rada Turchynov. Why? Because when Yatsenyuk started his work, dollar was 8 hryvnia. Now it’s almost 15”. He also blames Yatsenuyk and Turchynov in the war and current situation in the country. Then, Larin goes on to criticize the lustration law.
On ICTV, the spotlight is on Leonid Kuchma, who is father-in-law of the channel’s owner. Kuchma awarded students with awards from charity fund “Ukraine”. He also talked about his opinion on Crimea annexation, and then, added: “After such a communication, there is a different feeling inside since you see that Ukraine has a future because of the youth”. There is no real informational pretext for this material.
On Wednesday, central channels aired eighteen materials with paid news’ features.
October 2, Thursday
Battle for Donetsk airport was the main topic of that day for most channels
However, “Inter” surprises its viewers once again while choosing the main topic. According to “Podrobnosti”, the most important event was the downfall of another Lenin statue in Kryvyi Rih. The tone of the video is rather sad since now, “city officials will have to focus on protecting existing Lenins since there are at least seven of them in the city”. Then, the channel talks about Lenin who fell in Kharkiv. There is unnecessary comment of Mykhaylo Dobkin (“Opposition Bloc”) who says: “There will be other tries to go against the law and order. But I hope that the police will perform its tasks and prevent any tries to stop the statue’s renovation”.
“Inter” keeps on violating the standard of separating facts from comments since it gives general negative evaluation of the officials’ actions. “There are no reforms since the war is on the way, says Prime Minister. But nothing stands on the way of cutting salaries of the teacher, not officials in the Cabinet of Ministers. Whose work is harder and how much does it cost right now?” – says the anchor of “Podrobnosti”.
Similar examples against the current officials can be found in another material: “It appears that the government decided to kill national chemical industry and eliminate thousands of jobs. Officials don’t care about the workers and their families”.
In a video about the second day of Vienna conference, “Podrobnosti” show meaningless and populist comment of Dmytro Firtash: “We have to talk, not fight, and we have to solve peace issues through politics, not through war. When we focus on the war, we don’t focus on economics. We have to pay attention to the economics because it is very important for us. Soon, we won’t have money for social payments”.
Once again, «Ukrayina” criticizes “Aydar” battalion for interfering with Akhmetov’s good deeds; and it talks about good deeds at the same time: “10 cars with humanitarian aid of Rynat Akhmetov, stopped by “Aydar” battalion in the town of Shchastya, were released. The cars carrying the aid for 20 thousand people arrived to Severodonetsk...Citizens will get...food packages”.
There is a material about miners’ protest near Cabinet of Ministers that uses comment of Yuriy Boyko (#1 in “Opposition Bloc”): “Today’s government is nothing but wreck since the officials consciously prepare Ukraine to the repetition of Alchevsk tragedy. The protests we see now are happening because for many months, people had no money to survive”. Boyko is titrated as Minister of Energy of 2010-2012, so channel misleads people about Boyko’s current status.
“Ukrayina” also repeats the story of Dmytro Shpenov. He used to be in Party of Regions, and now, he is a candidate from the “Opposition Bloc”. Recently, he won a lawsuit so he could run for a deputy again. The channel gives his meaningless comment, and the overall talk is simply an agitation for people to vote since the candidate talks about achievements and future plans.
News on “1+1” keeps on defending commercial interests of its owner. The channel accuses the officials since they make state’s workers give up using “Pryvatbank”: “Oleksiy does not want to show his face because he is afraid of repressions from the managers. He is a worker of atom electric station in Enerhodar. The workers there are forced to quit using “Pryvatbank” since the managers demand them to use state’s “Oshchadbank”. The material does not present balance of opinions.
“1+1” goes on to criticize Lyashko and the conflict in Vinnytsya region. The video says: “The main radical promised them (local party members of the region, - TK) to share the achieved success and give them numbers in party list. Burt he forgot about people and his promises...So now, activists from Vinnytsya will warn people not to get tricked like them. In order to do that, they united into anti-corruption group and launched a website called Antilyashko.com.ua”. Besides two comments of ex-radicals, material does not provide any other opinions. It also appears as a way to popularize the website against Lyashko. Right after this one, there is another material against the leader of Radical Party. “When deputies in Parliament fought over what laws to pass, Oleh Valeriyouvych was making money on reselling ground. In 2011, Lyashko alongside his allies sold almost two hectares of woods near Kyiv to the communist Ihor Kaletnyk. This detective story began in the beginning of 2000s when Bucha’s City Council started giving away lands on Roza Liyksemburh Street to everybody. But in real life, influential people had some “fake” buyers getting the land. For example, it is Tamara Soroka who lives in Bucha. She was offered to get 10 acres”. As a tradition, the news did not ask Lyashko and thus, violated standard of balance.
Yuliya Tymoshenko appeared again on ICTV, “Ukrayina”, and “Inter” with very similar comments. “Sobytiya” said: “Local volunteer battalions asked Yuliya Tymoshenko to protect the borders of Kherson region since occupied Crimea is close, and there is a lot of weapons there. That’s why ex-prime-minister urged Ukrainian officials to send more troops to Kherson borders”. There is no real news in this video, and it is just a political PR before elections.
“Ukrayina” and ICTV have a hidden agitation for Serhiy Tihipko. The host makes a reference to Tihipko and says: “Regions have to be able to keep more finances and taxes on their territories. For that, we need decentralization. Then, everything will be different in medicine, social sphere, and education”. Tihipko adds: “Regions have to have influence over the taxes they get”.
Then, “Ukrayina” aired short video from new party “Zastup”: “Party “Zastup” has been officially registered for the elections to Verkhovna Rada. This political force believes that it’s the only party that defends farmers and agrarians. And the party hopes to get 7% of the votes”. The same information is on ICTV.
“Inter” airs three statements from members of “Opposition Bloc” Oleksandr Vilkul, Vadym Rabynovych, and Yuriy Boyko. Vilkul is quoted saying: “Immediately after elections of the new Verkhovna Rada, “Opposition Bloc” will launch new laws that will support production and defend workers”. ICTV airs similar comment.
Rabynovych speaks about his radio, “Rabynovych-FM” that doesn’t work right now, so he demands its restart. Journalist says: “When there was humor, it was tolerated. But when news appeared, it was deactivated without any legal explanation”. Rabynovych says the same thing. He is quoted talking about pressure on free media; and he adds that such pressure will never do anybody any good.
Yuriy Boyko takes care of migrants and their children. When speaking about an abbot on Bykovyna who works with migrants, Boyko says: “The children are unique. They all call the abbot their father. Here, you won’t see sad eyes. Everybody is healthy and lovely. In case something happens, the abbot is always with them.” Journalist of “Podrobnosti” adds to the positive image of the candidate: “Yuriy Boyko takes care for the children’s complex for a long time. Now, he wants to expand it and build an additional building for rehabilitation. Here, there is a good energy, and the temple is nearby. It will help both healthy and sick children”.
“Podrobnosti” also pays attention to Oleh Lyashko. Journalists talk about attacks on agitators and candidates from the Radical Party. “The last occurrence took place last night in Ivano-Frankivsk. Unknown people set on fire a car that belonged to an employee in the Election Headquarters of the Radical Party”. Lyashko also comments: “Obviously, it was planned. It’s easy to guess who is doing it since there are two enemies in Ukraine. The first one is Russian aggression from the outside, and the second one is oligarchs. They can burn as many tents they want and keep on provoking us because they won’t stop or scare us away”. The video does not present any other positions.
October 3, Friday
All the channels started their news from the situation on Donbas.
“Ukrayina” is loyal to its traditional appraisal of Akhmetov and his charity. There are at least two materials about it. “In Proletar district of Donetsk, Humanitarian Headquarters of Rynat Akhmetov Fund opened a new place where people can get humanitarian aid. Volunteers already gave more than 18 thousand of food packages”, “Humanitarian headquarters of Rynat Akhmetov Fund helps Donetsk hospitals. It provides them with medicine, food, and equipment. The total price of this aid is more than four million Hryvnia”. Among candidates, Yuriy Boyko is the only one advertised by “Ukrayina”. He talks about pensions: “We will increase them because the national currency dropped so much, so people would be able to live on them”.
“Podrobnosti” on “Inter” criticize the government for not giving money to the relatives of people killed on Donbas. The news begins: “Their sons and husbands were killed fighting for Ukraine. Zakarpattya has 24 families like that. Material by Maryna Koval explains why Cabinet of Ministers does not give money it has to give, and why people are being ignored now”. Still, the journalist does not give any comments of officials.
“Inter” also discredits “Pryvatbank”. Similarly to the videos in July and June, it tries to show how unprotected customers of “Pryvatbank” are since it is easy to trick the bank’s system. “Instead of sending money, Andriy got one million Hryvnia debt”. Further, the journalist talks about crooks who operate using Pryvatbank system and fool or rob people. Then, the journalist says: “But in Pryvatbank, employees see neither problem nor guilty ones despite the fact that the crooks call from the main office in Dnipropetrovsk. Police also says nothing”. This statement suggests that the journalist did talk with Pryvatbank, but the reporter did not give any direct quotes or comments of bank employees.
For the first time, “Podrobnosti” advertise “Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc”. “Members of “Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc” believe that the power of the masses can destroy Ukraine. Politicians and businessmen try to involve people from Self-Defense or battalions into financial fights. But the country needs one centre of management”. The channel also gives voice to Serhiy Tihipko who talks about changes in the taxation system.
ICTV also focuses on Tihipko. Journalist references politician and says: “Our country needs individual plan of saving big enterprises. On the round table “Save industry”, Tihipko alongside representatives of big industrial companies discussed the most important issues that need immediate solutions. According to the deputy, industrial enterprises suffer from a horrible crisis because of incompetent government’s actions”.
Yuriy Boyko shows up in “Podrobnosti” again. He “talked with people from the village Didivshchyna of Fastiv district about important problems. He talked about pensions and things a person could buy on them. He also said it was needed to cancel a negative pension reform that was implemented in 2011”. His party colleague, Oleksandr Vilkul, is shown in Brussels presenting party’s program and saying that he “asked European inspectors to come to Ukraine for the elections to guarantee their efficiency”. This is not the first time when Vilkul advertises himself using show-off events with some European politicians who are mostly leftists and pro-Russian.
“Inter” also advertises “Zastup” saying that the party “travels through cities and villages with its program “For the native land”. The program talks about problems in the villages and ways to solve them”. Party leader uses some populist theses and says: “We truly want to defend our agrarians. We want to defend farmers who represent middle class”. This news also shows Nestor Shufrych from “Opposition Bloc” who shares his opinion about officials’ actions on Donbas.
“Power and Honor”, the party that was unknown until recently, became a new hero of paid information on ICTV. It proposes dealing with corruption through political will and death penalty. The video says: “Power and Honor criticizes current government. The party does not see any improvements from the times of Orange Revolution. The party proposes reforms in taxation, support of small business, healthcare, and patriotic education in school. Among the promises, there is one understood by everyone; that is to return a “glass of milk” to schoolchildren during studies. But the main thing is to fight corruption that stops any reforms and good deeds. The party developed manifest “9 Steps to end corruption” that consists of strict rules for fighting corruption including death penalty.
As a tradition, “TSN” criticizes Lyashko. This time, the channel talks about the family of the politician. “Crime is a legacy of Lyashko since his mother served a term in the prison, and Lyashko himself wrote denunciations against his teachers at a boarding school. New facts in radical’s biography are really shocking”. Then, the material compares Lyashko with Yanukovych. This way, we must state that despite avoiding oligarchic war three months ago, “1+1” changed its strategy before the elections. It borrowed the methods from its opponents and actively practices black PR against politicians who are connected to Serhiy Lyovochkin.
October 4, Saturday
During weekend, there is less paid news on the channels. “Inter” is the only exception. In Saturday news, it has a hidden advertisement of six candidates. Valeriy Khoroshkovskyi from “Sylna Ukrayina” promises: “We will launch decentralization no matter what. Regions will get rights and their own budgets. But it will happen when the new Parliament is formed”. Yuliya Tymoshenko visited orphans on Donbas: “They are so adult they can draw the war; and they understand what the war is. They all talk about peace and happiness, about parents they do not have now”. Very similar paid news appeared on ICTV in “Fakty” and “Ukrayina” in “Sobytiya”.
“Podrobnosti” advertise Tetyana Bakhteeva from “Opposition Bloc” who greets teachers in Fastiv boarding school with Teacher’s Day. Similar material was aired on “Ukrayina”.
On “Inter”, viewers can also see hidden advertising of “Zastup” and Oleh Lyashko who once again left for the front. “Inter” used Lyashko’s comment where the latter swore: “To those who say why the hell we defend Donbas – we do not defend Donbas, we defend our native land. Because if we don’t stop them in Donbas, they will come to Lviv, Zakarpattya, and Kyiv.”
Besides hidden advertisement, “Podrobnisti” have an open one. During the newsletter, Yuriy Boyko speaks to the voters: “Dear Ukrainians! Our country falls deeper and deeper into economic and social crisis. The prices go up, national currency drops, and people’s savings lose their value... “Opposition Bloc” takes responsibility to restore the country, protect people, support those who are weak, and strengthen city and village infrastructure from being destroyed”. This is direct violation of Ukraine’s Law “About advertising” that prohibits advertisements in the informational programs. We hope that the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine will pay attention to this issue since it has to punish violators for breaking the laws.
As elections approach, central channels - such as “Inter”, “1+1”, ICTV, and “Ukrayina” - increase the amount of paid news. Anti-leader of this tendency is “Inter” that aired 47 materials with hidden agitation. Second place goes to “Ukrayina” (27 paid news), and third is ICTV (16). “TSN” had seven materials, most of them criticized Lyashko. News on STB, 5th Channel, and First National did not have features of paid materials. Although sometimes these channels do not follow the standards of informational journalism, their violations are not as bad or systematic as in previous examples.
Still, it is important to mention one negative example: it is special project of STB “Donetsk truth: on the other side of the war”. It was aired on 3rd of October. There, STB broke one of the main principles of the civilized media such as not to give terrorists a chance to speak to the public via television. Oleksandr Zakharchenko, who considers himself Prime-minister of so-called DNR, appeals to Ukrainian viewers and explains his demands and plans. It is possible that the material was a result of an agreement between Zakharchenko and Leonid Kuchma who is father-in-law of the channel’s owner, Viktor Pinchkuk. Creating a positive image of a terrorist is a huge violation of journalism ethics.
When it comes to political parties, “Opposition Bloc” has the most paid news since it has connections both to “Inter” and “Ukrayina”. Three Ukrainian channels – “Ukrayina”, “Inter”, and ICTV – aired around 25 materials with hidden agitation for this party. Second place goes to “Batkivshchyna” (12 materials); and then, there is Rynat Akhmetov (10 materials on “Ukrayina”). “Sylna Ukrayina” and “Zastup” also pay for news a lot. Yuriy Boyko, Yuliya Tymoshenko, Oleksandr Vilkul, Serhiy Tihipko, Vadym Rabynovych, and Mykhaylo Dobkin are the most popular guests of paid news.
Monitoring of compliance with professional standards in the information services of Ukrainian TV channels was carried by NGO "Telekritika" as a part of the project “Strengthening informational society in Ukraine” supported by Council of Europe. The purpose of monitoring is to increase media literacy of Ukrainian society, motivate media to be just and responsible, respect professional standards, and improve the quality of media product.
Monitoring is an independent expert assessment of the NGO "Telekritika." All conclusions and opinions expressed in all monitoring publications may not necessarily reflect the views of Council of Europe.