Oligarchs strengthen grip over TV

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Aug. 18, 2011, 6:21 p.m. | Business — by Kyiv Post Staff

Kyiv Post Staff

Ukraine’s state television and radio regulatory body on Aug. 18 doled out 28 nationwide licenses for digital broadcasting, mostly to companies controlled by oligarchs who are seen as being on good terms with President Viktor Yanukovych. The licenses were distributed ahead of the switchover from analog planned for this autumn.

This as one of the final steps towards establishment of an authoritarian regime backed by loyal oligarchs.
Critics said it represented a big step toward further monopolization of Ukraine’s media by domestic oligarchs that are loyal or friendly in their coverage of Yanukovych’s administration.

“This as one of the final steps towards establishment of an authoritarian regime backed by loyal oligarchs,” said Mykola Kniazhytsky, general director of TVi.

TVi did not get a license. “We applied, but didn’t get any license, without any explanation,” Kniazhytsky added.

According to media watchdogs in Ukraine, TVi is one of the nation’s few channels that dares to scratch below the surface in its coverage of Yanukovych’s administration.

Asked why he thinks TVi was turned down, Kniazhytsky said: “We adhere to honest and investigative journalism. So, it seems that this got in the way, as it did for many regional channels that also try to report objectively. We got no licenses. Instead, the channels of oligarchs loyal to the presidential administration got nearly all the licenses.”

Without a digital license, TVi will through existing cable and satellite networks have access to about 45 percent of Ukraine’s population, while the selected channels will have more than 90 percent nationwide coverage.

Licenses were granted to eight channels within Ukraine’s largest television holding, U.A. Inter Media Group. It is owned by billionaire Valery Khoroshkovsky. He currently heads Ukraine’s SBU state security service.

Four licenses went to channels owned by Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man and a longtime Yanukovych backer.
Three licenses were granted to the channels of Viktor Pinchuk, the billionaire son-in-law of former President Leonid Kuchma.

Channels 1+1 and TET, owned by billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, were also handed licenses.
Petro Poroshenko’s channel 5, whose reporting is known to be balanced but less aggressive than TVi, got a license.

Even the National Bank of Ukraine got a license for a newly launched banking television project, as did an ice hockey channel reportedly owned by Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnikov.

Left out is TVi, a channel whose news coverage stands out for digging deep and hitting hard in times when much of domestic news coverage has been either dumbed down or spun in favor of Yanukovych.
We all know that there is no independent judiciary in the country left anymore.

TVi was set up by two exiled Russian businessman: Vladimir Gusinsky and Konstantin Kagalovsky. They split due to a business dispute.

Today, Kagalovsky controls and continues to fund TVi. The channel pledges to fight and report on, despite recent attempts to muzzle its reporting by pulling licenses handed out in prior years, and not granting fresh ones.

Kniazhytsky said TVi plans to appeal the fairness of the license handouts. But, he added: “We all know that there is no independent judiciary in the country left anymore.”
The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.
Anonymous Aug. 18, 2011, 6:48 p.m.    

Bend over Ukrainians .... it is going in deep and hard. Don't expect anything to get better for a very very long time.

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Anonymous Aug. 18, 2011, 8:30 p.m.    

Oh it's like we see CNN and BBC criticizing their governments!

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Anonymous Aug. 18, 2011, 8:52 p.m.    

You obviously don't watch those channels, Russkie.

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Anonymous Aug. 24, 2011, 2:23 p.m.    

Yes russkie have you bothered to watch these channels?

I tried to watch Russia Today and just pissed myself laughing the one about the US shuttle being a weapons platform was really informative, hats off to RT journalists for that juicy information.

Why do RT need English people to present RT news? is that so it might seem more credable if said with an English accent?.

NewsFlash for you.. Bullshit is still Bullshit.. no matter how you present it

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Anonymous Aug. 18, 2011, 6:51 p.m.    

The most professional and objective TV news coverage in Ukraine is Channel 5 by far.

TVi unfortunately cancelled the show of their best journalist Vitaliy Portnikov. Kniazhytsky's program is also rather good, but like Kyiv Post, he sometimes gets carried away and reports news in the style of biased propaganda rather than with professional objectivity.

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Anonymous Aug. 18, 2011, 8:41 p.m.    

Бог помагає Українії !

Well, well. Looking on the positive side at least three stations will back President Kuchma's reelection campaign, and yes the courts already said he could. The up side is the election may be democratic.

Well by the end of the election 100% of Ukraine should be covered by TV, thanks to the rich new hetmen. When I had a heart-attack the doctor said &quot;No seasonal work; no cutting grass, raking leaves or shoveling snow&quot;. I felt like tipping him, as my wife just glared. Life or seasonal work, which to choose?

Reading or mind numbing TV? Come-on KYIV POST Ukraine NEEDS you. Don't let INTERFAX-UKRAINE the TRUE (orthodox) media. Do owner Mohammad Zahoor proud to be a Ukrainian patriot. Owner of the KYIV POST the voice of orthodox Ukraina in it's third official language; English.

That should be good to help bring Ukrainian Diaspora tourists into town for the MILLENNIUM+25 and football, so by the presidential elections all the poling spots will be monitored. Thank God Brian quit and Mike got hired when they did. The journalistic double headed American eagle for a democratic Ukraine so Mohammad can say &quot;God is great&quot;.


Ukrainians are fair minded, Ukraine is cancerous, Ukrainian is for all as they see it.

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Anonymous Aug. 19, 2011, 9 a.m.    

well if Putin can manipulate to come back as president maybe Kuchma can also???

even Kuchma would be better than Yanuk????

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Anonymous Aug. 18, 2011, 10:51 p.m.    

TVi did not get a license. “We applied, but didn’t get any license, without any explanation,” Kniazhytsky added.

Read more:

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Anonymous Aug. 18, 2011, 11:15 p.m.    

In Donetsk, police detained journalists who filmed the motorcade of Yanukovych.

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Anonymous Aug. 19, 2011, 8:57 a.m.    

JUST like USA except for FOX News

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