Media of Ukraine
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The media of Ukraine refers to mass media outlets based in the Republic of Ukraine. Television, magazines, and newspapers are all operated by both state-owned and for-profit corporations which depend on advertising, subscription, and other sales-related revenues. The Constitution of Ukraine guarantees freedom of speech. As a country in transition, Ukraine's media system is under transformation.
- 1 Legislative framework
- 2 Media outlets
- 3 Media Organisations
- 4 Censorship and media freedom
- 5 Media ownership
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The Ukrainian legal framework on media freedom is deemed "among the most progressive in eastern Europe", although implementation has been uneven. The constitution and laws provide for freedom of speech and press. However, the government does not always respect these rights in practice.
The Constitution of Ukraine lists the Ukrainian language as the official one, and the law compels media outlets to use it. Nevertheless, most media publications in Ukraine are in Russian language. Electronic media, which are government-licensed, are mostly in Ukrainian, while print newspapers, which only require a formal registration, are published in Russian. Online media in Ukraine is not regulated.
The main pieces of Ukrainian Media Legislation are:
- Law on Information since 1992, No. 2657-XII
- Law on Printed Media (Press) in Ukraine since 1992, No. 2782-XII
- Law on Television and Radio since 1993, No. 3759-XII
- Law on Filmmaking since 1998, No. 9/98-ВР
- Law on State Support of Publishing Business in Ukraine since 2003, No. 601-IV
- Law on Public Morality Security since 2003, No. 1296-IV
- Law on Main Principles of Information Society Development in Ukraine in 2007-2015 since 2007, No. 537-V
In 2001 Ukraine decriminalised libel, which is considered a civil offence, and the law limits the amount of damages that may be claimed in libel lawsuits. Since 2009, judges have been required to follow ECHR standards on civil libel standards, distinguishing between facts and value judgement, and affording lower levels of protection to public officials. Yet, the use of libel lawsuits by politicians and officials to deter critical reporting has continued. The press can publish critical materials and opinions without penalty, and public officials enjoy fewer legal protections from criticism than other citizens. However, local media observers express concern over high monetary damages that at times were demanded and awarded for alleged libel.
The constitution prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, however in the past authorities have been reported as only selectively respecting these prohibitions.[nb 1]
The Law on Protection of Public Morals of 20 November 2003, prohibits the production and circulation of pornography; dissemination of products that propagandise war or spread national and religious intolerance; humiliation or insult to an individual or nation on the grounds of nationality, religion, or ignorance; and the propagation of "drug addition, toxicology, alcoholism, smoking and other bad habits."
Draconian laws were passed in mid January 2014 during the Euromaidan demonstrations by the Yanukovych administration that seriously restricted freedom of expression and freedom of the media. They were repealed on 28 January 2014.
In early March 2014, Crimea removed Ukraine-based TV channels ahead of its Russian annexation referendum. Later that month, the Ukrainian National Council for TV and Radio Broadcasting ordered measures against some Russian TV channels which were accused of broadcasting misleading information about Ukraine.
In February 2015, the law "On protection information television and radio space of Ukraine," banned the showing (on Ukrainian television and in cinemas) of "audiovisual works" that contain "popularization, propaganda, propaganda, any action of law enforcement agencies, armed forces, other military, military or security forces of an invader" was enacted. One year later Russian productions (on Ukrainian television) had decreased by 3 to 4 (times). 15 more Russian TV channels were banned in March 2016.
In March 2015, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a law on access to information, incorporating the international standards and introducing sanctions and fines for obstructive public officials. Its implementation is still to be evaluated.
Status and self-regulation of journalists
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The main regulatory authority for the broadcast media is the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine (NTRBCU), tasked with licensing media operators and ensure their compliance with the law. Its members are appointed by the President and the Parliament - thought the appointment process has been criticised as politicised. 75 percent of broadcasts should be in the Ukrainian language, in order for a broadcast media to obtain a license - although this has given rise to protests by broadcasters who buy most of their programming from Russia and the combined CIS area. The regulation is often complied with only formally, by adding Ukrainian subtitles to Russian-language kids programmes or cartoons. The Council has often been in conflict with Russia-based TV channels broadcasting cross-border in Ukraine, as they are deemed in breach of Ukrainian legislation on language, advertisement, and erotic and violent contents. Following the Euromaidan, the new ruling coalition declared no confidence in the leadership of the broadcasting regulator, seen as politicised. New members of the Council were appointed in July 2014 in a more independent fashion.
The State Committee of Ukraine supervises state-owned TV and radio outlets. The Parliament Committee is tasked with legislation on freedom of speech and information.
The National Expert Commission of Ukraine on the Protection of Public Morality, established by the government in 2004, was an advising body to examine the media and detect sexual and violent contents. It was disbanded in 2015. The Commission had been accused of limiting media freedom and of trying to control "morals" in the online blogosphere.
Most Ukrainian media outlets have private owners. Until 2014 the state still controlled a TV channel (First National) and a radio station (National Radio Company of Ukraine), with only marginal market shares, and there was no public service broadcaster. Local governments also own local TV and radio stations. By the end of 2014, Ukraine hosted 1,563 broadcast licenses, of which 1,229 were held by private stations, 298 by communally-owned stations, and 36 by state broadcasters.
In Ukraine many news outlets are financed by wealthy investors and reflected the political and economic interests of their owners. The decline in advertising revenues has left media outlets even more dependent on support from politicised owners, hence hindering their editorial independence. Paid content disguised as news (known as jeansa) remains widespread in the Ukrainian media, weakening theirs' and journalists' credibility, especially during electoral campaigns. According to an April 2014 poll by Razumkov Centre, the Ukrainian media was trusted by 61.5 percent of respondents (Western media 40.4 percent, and Russia 12.7 percent).
Media ownership remains opaque, despite a February 2014 bill requiring full disclosure of ownership structures.
- The Inter Media Group is linked to the gas trader Dmytro Firtash and Yanukovych-linked politician Serhiy Lyovochkin.
- Star Light Media, linked to the billionaire Viktor Pinchuk includes 6 TV stations and several other media and advertising companies.
- 1+1 Media Group is deemed owned by Ihor Kolomoyskyi, who in March 2014 was appointed governor of Dnipropetrovsk.
- Media Group Ukraine is reportedly controlled by Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's wealthiest man.
- 5 Kanal TV channel remains owned by the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, despite criticism of the conflict of interest.
Over 30,000 periodicals are officially registered in Ukraine, though most of these are inactive or have never published. In 2009, there were around 4,000 periodicals — 2,400 newspapers and 1,700 magazines.
Three quarters of the print market is controlled by six publishing houses. Two of them are foreign owned: Burda-Ukraine (of the German holding Hubert Burda Media, and Edipress-Ukraine of the Swiss company Edipresse. Four are owned by Ukrainians, including Segodnya-multimedia by the System Capital Management holding of billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, and Fakty i Commentarii by billionaire Viktor Pinchuk (former President’s Kuchma son-in-law).
Kiev dominates the media sector in Ukraine: the Kyiv Post is Ukraine's leading English-language newspaper. National newspapers Den and Zerkalo Nedeli, tabloids, such as The Ukrainian Week or Focus (Russian), and television and radio are largely based there, although Lviv is also a significant national media centre. The National News Agency of Ukraine, Ukrinform was founded here in 1918. Sanoma publishing Ukrainian editions of such magazines as Esquire, Harpers Bazaar and National Geographic Magazine. BBC Ukrainian started its broadcasts in 1992. Ukrayinska Pravda founded by Georgiy Gongadze in April 2000 (the day of the Ukrainian constitutional referendum). Published mainly in Ukrainian with selected articles published in or translated to Russian and English, the newspaper has particular emphasis on the politics of Ukraine.
The most circulated publications are leisure and infotainment magazines. Newspapers, magazines and general audience mass media are usually owned by groups affiliated with political-economic conglomerates (oligarchs), with serious repercussions on the independence and impartiality of the press.
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The first official radio broadcast took place in Kiev on 1 February 1939. Ukrainians listen to radio programming, such as Radio Ukraine or Radio Liberty, largely commercial, on average just over two-and-a-half hours a day.
Most Ukrainian radio stations are part of larger media holdings. Each big city has a couple of competing big stations. The main ones include:
- Chanson, Sharmanka, Business Radio, Continent, DJ FM belonging to Business Radio Group
- Nashe Radio, NRJ belonging to Communicorp Group
- Russkoe Radio, KISS FM, HitFM, ROKS belonging to media holding Tavr Media
- RetroFM, Autoradio, EuropePlus, Alla belonging to Ukrainian Media Holding
Most radio stations have a generalist profile and broadcast mainly music and entertainment, with weak news contents, as they rely on advertisement revenues for sustenance. Era FM is the only talk radio station broadcasting (as of 2010).
Television in Ukraine was introduced in 1951, and remains the favourite medium of Ukrainians. The main TV channels are part of big financial holdings (except for 1+1, controlled by Cyprus Holding Limited). Foreign investments in broadcast media cannot go beyond 20% of shares - although Russia-based groups circumvent this limit through fake local enterprises. Editorial policies strictly follow owners' economic and financial interests.
Ukraine has up to 10 main TV channels, with a fragmentation that preserves media pluralism although channels are biased in different ways and directions. Viewers choose a favourite bias or consume multiple channels. The most watched television channels in Ukraine are the commercial ones Inter and 1+1. Network covers 99.7 percent of Ukraine's territory (according to the channel's own information). Inter is among the top-rated networks in Ukraine, competing with such as 1+1 media, StarLightMedia Group, which operates six TV channels, 5 Kanal and TVi. 5 Kanal, controlled by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, is the most popular news channel in Ukraine.
- The National Television Company of Ukraine (NTU) operates the Pershyi Natsionalnyi (First National) channel and works closely and provides broadcasting for Euronews and Hromadske.TV. A May 2014 law required state-owned TV and radio channels to be turned into a public service broadcaster by 2015, despite opposition from the employees. Kharkiv journalist Zurab Alasaniya, one of the founders of Hromadske, was appointed as new director of NTU in March 2015.
- Hromadske.TV is an Internet television station in Ukraine that started to operate on 22 November 2013, together with Hromadske Radio, as an alternative to state media and politically-controlled commercial outlets. It gained prominence during the Euromaidan protests.
- In August 2014 the 1+1 Media Group launched the English-language channel Ukraine Today. In 2016 Ukraine Today was closed down.
Ukraine's only digital terrestrial TV company Zeonbud was declared a monopoly in December 2014. It had been afforded an exclusive license in a non-transparent way in late 2010. As such, it is subject to reinforced governmental oversight.
The most-viewed channels (audience share age 4 and older, December 2015) were the following:
|Position||Channel||Group||Share of total viewing (%)|
|1||Inter||Inter Media Group||13.07%|
|3||Channel Ukraine||Media Group Ukraine||9.20%|
|7||NTN||Inter Media Group||4.03%|
Ukraine has had an influence on the history of the cinema. Ukrainian directors Alexander Dovzhenko, often cited as one of the most important early Soviet film makers, as well as being a pioneer of Soviet montage theory, Dovzhenko Film Studios, and Sergei Parajanov, Armenian film director and artist who made significant contributions to Ukrainian, Armenian and Georgian cinema. He invented his own cinematic style, Ukrainian poetic cinema, which was totally out of step with the guiding principles of socialist realism.
Other important directors including Kira Muratova, Larisa Shepitko, Sergei Bondarchuk, Leonid Bykov, Yuri Ilyenko, Leonid Osyka, Ihor Podolchak with his Delirium and Maryna Vroda. Many Ukrainian actors have achieved international fame and critical success, including: Vera Kholodnaya, Bohdan Stupka, Milla Jovovich, Olga Kurylenko, and Mila Kunis.
Despite a history of important and successful productions, the industry has often been characterised by a debate about its identity and the level of Russian and European influence. Ukrainian producers are active in international co-productions and Ukrainian actors, directors and crew feature regularly in Russian (Soviet in past) films. Also successful films had been based on Ukrainian people, stories or events, including Battleship Potemkin, Man with a Movie Camera, and Everything Is Illuminated.
Ukrainian State Film Agency owns National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Film Centre, film copying laboratory and archive, takes part in hosting of the Odessa International Film Festival, and Molodist is the only one FIAPF accredited International Film Festival held in Ukraine; competition program is devoted to student, first short and first full feature films from all over the world. Held annually in October.
In 2009, there were 148 cinemas (273 halls) in Ukraine, with an annual turnover close to $65m dollars. On average, a Ukrainian person goes to the cinema 1.3 times per year. Cinemas income come mainly from ticket sales (55%), snacks and drinks (30%) and advertising (30%). Most cinema theatres screen blockbuster movies.
Telecommunication is the most modern, diverse and fast-growing sector in the economy of Ukraine. Unlike country's dominating export industries, the telecommunications, as well as the related Internet sector, remain largely unaffected by the global economic crisis, ranking high in European and global rankings.
The industry also leads in de-monopolization of Ukraine's economy as Ukrtelekom (once the country's sole telephone provider) was successfully privatized, and is now losing its retail market share to independent, foreign-invested private providers.
The entire population of Ukraine now has telephone and/or mobile phone connection; Internet access is universally available in cities and main transport corridors, expanding into smaller settlements. The mobile cellular telephone system's expansion has slowed, largely due to the saturation of the market, which has reached 125 mobile phones per 100 people.
Ukraine's telecommunication development plan emphasizes further improving domestic trunk lines, international connections, and the mobile cellular system.
The Ukrainian mobile system is shared between Kyivstar — 22.17m subscribers (40.1 percent); MTS-Ukraine — 17.7 m subscribers (32.1 percent); Astelit - TM life:) — 11.86m subscribers (21.5 percent); Ukrainian Telesystems and Golden Telecom (TM Beeline) — 2.1m subscribers (3.8 percent); and Telesystems of Ukraine (TM PEOPLEnet) which is the leader among CDMA-operators (383,000 subscribers — 0.7 percent).
Internet in Ukraine is well developed and steadily growing, mostly uninfluenced by the global financial crisis; in April 2012 rapid growth was forecast for at least two more years. As of 2011, Ukraine was ranked 9th in the "Top 10 Internet countries in Europe", with then 33.9% Internet penetration and 15.3 million users; growing to 36.8% in 2012. Internet penetration reached 43% in 2014.
In 2011, online retailing turnover in Ukraine exceeded USD 2 bn. For 2012, it was expected to reach USD 4 bn. Online payments in the country in 2011 where estimated at USD 400 million, 200% growth compared to 2010.
In May 2017, president Poroshenko signed a decree blocking access in Ukraine to Russian servers VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Yandex and Mail.ru, claiming they participate in an information war against Ukraine. Respondents in an online poll on the UNIAN site declared that 66% were “categorically against” the ban of Russian sites and another 11% said it would be easier to “ban the whole internet, like in North Korea”.
- State Special Communications Service of Ukraine (Official website)
- National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization of Ukraine (Official website)
The Media Law Institute (MLI) operates since 2005 with the support of USAID-funded NGO Internews Network and its Strengthening Independent Media in Ukraine Program. The MLI supports media legislation development, freedom of speech, and access to information in Ukraine; monitors media regulation drafted in Ukrainian parliament, develops new media and information law curricula for law and journalism schools, and cooperates with Ukrainian and international organisations to protect freedom of speech and journalists' rights.
The Institute of Mass Information (IMI), established in 1995 by Ukrainian journalists, defends freedom of speech, organises trainings for Ukrainian journalists, and monitors journalists' rights and attempts or pressure inflicted upon them, including trials involving mass media and authorities. Since 2001 the IMI is a partner of the international watchdog organisation Reporters Without Borders.
The Media Reform Centre was founded in 2002 at the School of Journalism at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. It organises events, conferences and trainings to initiate open discussion concerning media, striving for more transparent media and government.
Telekritika is a magazine and an online platform for media professionals to discuss ethical, legal and other professional issues.
Internews-Ukraine, founded in 1996, sees its mission in the establishment European values through development of successful media in Ukraine - particularly the online media. It organises trainings for journalists, public events and projects to improve news quality, surveys, studies and monitoring.
The largest news agencies in Ukraine are:
- Ukrinform — the oldest Ukrainian national news agency, state-owned
- Іnterfax-Ukraine — a branch of the Russian news agency Interfax
- Ukrainski Novyny ("Ukrainian news") — owned by U.A. Inter Media Group, Valeriy Khoroshkovsky
- UNIAN — owned by the 1+1 Media Group, linked to the Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoyskyi
- RBC-Ukraina — a branch of the Russian news agency RosBusinessConsulting
- LigaBusinessInform — part of the Analytical Center LIGA, specialised on business and legal news
Several trade union of the media sector exist in Ukraine, but their activities are limited.
- The National Journalists' Union of Ukraine is the oldest Ukrainian media union, inheriting Soviet structures and (proforma) mass membership. It claims 13,000 members.
- The Independent Media-Union of Ukraine was founded in 2004 by media activists following the merger of the Kyiv Independent Media-Union with local chapters. It unites journalists and protects their professional, social and labour rights. It is working toward transparent rules for the Ukrainian media market. During the 2004 Orange Revolution the union supported journalists' strikes against censorship; it later focused on owners/journalists' agreements on editorial policy. Since 2006 it is a full member of the International Federation of Journalists.
Organisations based on corporate membership represent the interests of media owners and receive their financial support. They include:
- The International Association of TV and Radio-Broadcasters, established in 2000
- The Television Industry Committee, representing the interests of Ukraine’s television market and gathering all the most popular Ukrainian TV channels and major advertising agencies and prime advertisers.
- The Ukrainian Association of Periodic Press (UAPP), the leading NGO representing periodic press publishers. Founded in 2001, it had 88 members in 2009, including publishers of magazines and newspapers from all over Ukraine.
- The Cable Television Union of Ukraine, a professional association of cable television operators, TV broadcasters and producers, with more than 60 members in 2009 but few activities
- The Ukrainian Internet Association, founded in late 2000 to facilitate the Ukrainian Internet development providing legal consultancy and government relationship. In 2009 it had 52 full and 42 associate members.
Censorship and media freedom
due to profound changes in the media environment after the fall of President Viktor Yanukovych's government in February, despite a rise in attacks on journalists during the Euromaidan protests of early 2014 and the subsequent conflict in eastern Ukraine. The level of government hostility and legal pressure faced by journalists decreased, as did political pressure on state-owned outlets. The media also benefited from improvements to the law on access to information and the increased independence of the broadcasting regulator.
In 2015 the main concerns about media freedom in Ukraine were the handling of pro-Russian propaganda, the concentration of media ownership, and the high risks of violence against journalists, especially in the conflict areas in the east.
As of September 2015, Freedom House classifies the Internet in Ukraine as "partly free" and the press as "partly free". Press freedom had significantly improved since the Orange Revolution of 2004. However, in 2010 Freedom House perceived "negative trends in Ukraine".
The Ukrainian legal framework on media freedom is deemed "among the most progressive in eastern Europe", although implementation has been uneven. The Constitution of Ukraine and a 1991 law provide for freedom of speech.
In October 2016 amendments to media legislation came into force giving broadcasters and program service providers six months time "to disclose detailed information about their ownership structures, including the identities of ultimate beneficiaries". In practice, media ownership in Ukraine has long been non-transparent.
Concentration and pluralism
In October 2016, "quota for radio - to broadcast Ukrainian songs and programs maintenance in Ukrainian" were introduced. The media market is also subject to competition law, but in practice media monopolies are not regulated and media laws are enforced selectively. The law caps foreign ownership of Ukrainian media outlets at 30 percent.
In Ukraine concentration of market ownership is not conditioned just by commercial interests, but also, and more importantly, by political interests and lobbies. According to Ambeyi Ligabo (UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression from 2002 to 2008) these are amongst the most notable deficiencies in the Ukraine media environment.
- State-owned media
While there is no broadcasting that has public service as a mission, decades after the independence from the Soviet Union state-owned media outlets continue to exist.
In 2006 half of more newspapers and magazine in Ukraine belonged to the state. In 2011 there were more than 100 newspapers owned by the state and more than 800 owned by municipalities, together constituting nearly 22 percent of all Ukrainian periodicals. In 2006 the state owned 35 television stations, including UT-1, and 3 radio channels. As of 2011[update] the "national state owns about 4 percent of the TV and radio sector, on top of the nearly 815 municipal television and radio companies controlled by local governments".
Only around 7 percent of advertising money goes to newspapers. 45 percent goes to broadcast media. Still, even if this is the largest share, regional TV channels receives a little part of this, with most money going to national ones. But since there are fifteen nationwide TV channels, the slices are still small. State-owned media offers lower rates than private one, because they do not need advertising money for their survival.
Also because of all those reasons Ukrainian media depend much on political advertising, with obvious consequence on its bias. In 2009 direct political advertising for the presidential election accounted for as much as 23.5% of all television advertising income, but presidential candidates also use hidden advertising widely so real percentage is higher, yet unknown.
- Foreign investments
Foreign investments in the Ukrainian media market are currently low. In the late 1990s and early 2000s Western companies made investments in the country television, but later the sold the shares to locals -mainly oligarchs- leaving the market. Problems are "the lack of stable, transparent business regulation, the widespread corruption, and the uneasy relationships between the media and politicians". Russia marks an exception: Russian newspapers, TV channel and radio stations are popular in Ukraine. Russian programs are also popular in Ukrainian media outlets, and they are cheaper than Ukrainian ones.
It is widely understood that most of the media sector is controlled by oligarchs, or – in this case – "media barons", a small number of wealthy businessmen with interests also in other industries and in politics. They are "external owners", entrepreneurs for which media outlets are not the main business and are not an important source of capital. For them TV is used to accumulate political influence, that can be used to support their true main businesses. As media owner they are not primarily driven by market logic.
This high degree of ownership concentration means high barrier to entry to the media market. Currently, four financial-political groups control nearly the entire broadcasting sector of the Ukrainian media:
|Viktor and Olena Pinchuk||StarLightMedia||ICTV, M1, Novyi Kanal, STB, Fakty i Kommentarii, Ekonomika, etc.|
|Ihor Kolomoyskyi||1+1 Media Group||1+1, TET (co-owner Ihor Surkis), Kino TV, UNIAN, Glavred|
|Dmytro Firtash (formerly Valeriy Khoroshkovskyi)||Inter Media||Inter, Inter+, Enter, Enter-Film, K1, K2, Megasport, MTV Ukraine (closed in 2013), the web-site Podrobnosti and Ukrajinsky novyny|
|Rinat Akhmetov||Media Group Ukraine/System Capital Management||Ukraine, Segodnya, Salon Dona i Basa|
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- Cases were Ukrainian authorities were accused of violation of privacy are:
- On 17 August 2012, opposition politician Oleksandr Turchynov alleged that law enforcement officials monitored and tracked opposition activists without legal permission.
- On 20 August 2012, Serhiy Vlasenko, a lawyer for former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, alleged that authorities had him under surveillance, tapped his telephones, and watched his e-mail account.
- While, by law the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) may not conduct surveillance or searches without a court-issued warrant, citizens have the legal right to examine any dossier concerning them in the possession of the SBU and to recover losses resulting from an investigation, authorities generally do not respect these rights[according to whom?] because implementing legislation has not been enacted, and many citizens[quantify] are not aware of their rights or that authorities have violated their privacy.
- "Media Ownership Monitor Ukraine". Media Ownership Monitor. Institute of Mass Information (IMI) and Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved 26 March 2017.