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Shuster back at Inter channel

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Feb. 19, 2013, 7:31 p.m. | Ukraine — by Denis Rafalsky

Savik Shuster’s political talk show Shuster Live
© www.3s.tv

Denis Rafalsky

Ukraine’s leading TV station Inter has announced that Savik Shuster’s political talk show Shuster Live, currently aired on State First National TV, will replace the weekly Spravedlyvist talk show hosted by Anna Bezulyk.

Driving the move is Inter's desire to increase its political broadcasting rating, the firm announced in a press release. “Today, Savik Shuster’s program is the most popular … talk show in the nation and its appearance will strengthen the position of the channel,” admits Yevgeniy Kiselyov, who currently heads news production at Inter.

Inter earlier ran Canadian-Italian expat Shuster’s political talk show called Svoboda Savika Shustera for a year.  

Russian expat Kiselyov hosted a government-friendly political talk show Velyka Polityka on Inter since September 2009. In January 2013 he was replaced with Bezulyk’s more balanced program. Spravedlyvist aired three times before being shut down.

However, Inter noted they will not fire Bezulyk. “This decision was (in) the channel management's competence. I and my group were proposed to continue working for the channel and now we keep on searching the format that will interest Inter,” Bezulyk is quoted as saying in the press-release.   

Shuster returns to Inter following former top-managers Yegor Benkendorf, who became the channel's head not long ago, and Hanna Bezliudna, who joined the channel’s supervisory board.

This homecoming took place soon after Ukrainian tycoon Dmitry Firtash bought the channel for a reported $2.5 billion. Firtash's Group DF bought Inter and other media outlets from a company owned by multimillionaire Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, the nation’s former deputy prime minister and security services chief.

Firtash owns Inter together with presidential chief of staff Serhiy Lyovochkin, who assured his ownership would not affect editorial policy and vowed to sign an editorial agreement with the channel. “As a person who is part of the government I guarantee my keeping out from the creative activity of the journalists and the media managers,” the presidential website quotes him as saying.

Before the ownership transfer, Inter started granting fair amounts of air time to the opposition, according to independent monitoring. Natalia Ligachova, chief editor of Telekritika media watchdog, told the Kyiv Post that the new owner's arrival would likely change that.

In the latest TV review, Spravedlyvist received slightly better ratings than Shuster’s program.

Kyiv Post staff writer Denis Rafalsky can be reached at rafalsky@kyivpost.com

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