Certainly, this applies to Kyiv’s main television cable operator Volia, and its U.S.-based co-owners – equity fund manager SigmaBleyzer and Providence Equity Partners.
Volia announced earlier this month that TVi – arguably the last television channel openly critical of President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration – would be moved from the standard package to a more expensive premium one. In contrast, oligarch-owned television channels with news programs that are friendly to Yanukovych’s rule, and the channel of Ukraine’s National Bank – itself headed by a presidential loyalist – have been kept in the basic package, which is third the price of the premium one.
The move will almost certainly decrease TVi’s potential audience. Currently, the number of subscribers of Volia’s premium package is around 80,000 – almost threefold less than the audience of the standard selection of channels. It’s the latest in the chain of bad news for the station that authorities are muzzling ahead of the Oct. 28 parliamentary election.