Will Ukrainians watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup? Dilemma for Ukraine’s Public Broadcaster

Photo: 112.ua 

Hybrid War

The FIFA World Cup 2018 to be held in Russia has put the Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine in a difficult situation. Whether it chooses to broadcast the World Cup or not, the public broadcaster will face a barrage of criticism. There are those who realize the danger of Russian propaganda during the event, while others simply adore football. Also, non-fulfillment of obligations towards the European Broadcasting Union will have negative consequences too. Zurab Alasania, head of the public broadcaster’s managing board, gave Euromaidan Press the details in an exclusive interview.

According to Alasania, events of this size have always been broadcast by the country’s First National Channel, the predecessor to the whole Ukrainian Public Broadcasting Channel. Also, the channel could have shared it by selling a sublicense.

“I can predict for sure how this championship will be broadcast in Russia. To show in Ukraine for a whole month what is going on in the aggressor country is unacceptable according to the law. On the other hand, people tell me ‘Are you stupid? Sport is outside of politics.’ But nothing in this world is outside of politics. And it will be heavily politicized in Russia, it will be enormous propaganda. We know the moods of their stands and what posters we will see there. We know all the advertising on boards at the stadiums and how Russia will use it. So what should we do? One half of the country will condemn us if we show it and the other half will condemn us if we don’t,” said Alasania.

So far he sees no solution to the situation.

“We acquired the license in 2010. Now I can’t sell it on the market. Ukrainian channels understand what it is about and do not want to broadcast it. To broadcast it here is to bury the reputation of the public broadcaster for a long time. Not to show it means facing the hatred of half of the country.”

The Head of the Public Broadcaster also recognizes additional problems related to obligations to the European Broadcasting Union.

“If we do not show it, the European Broadcasting Union will say ‘Are you playing games here? Sport is outside of politics! You acquired the license — pay for it.’ And then the state will ask me what it was that I paid for. If I have paid and not broadcast it, where is the money? And for that I can be imprisoned for 5-7 years. Also, there will be fines from the European Broadcasting Union because the agreement says that we have to cover certain territory.  And the territory is quite big.”

Ukraine pledged to establish public broadcasting to the Council of Europe and in terms of the Association agreement with the EU. An independent, impartial broadcaster is crucially needed especially in Ukraine, where the main TV channels are controlled by rivaling political and financial powers. The law on the creation of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine was adopted in 2014. The company started working full-scale in 2017 and already faces the pressure from the state – for the next year, the government plans to cut its funding by nearly a half.


Edited by: Michael Garrood

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  1. Avatar Микола Данчук says:

    This argument has become a political/legal issue, how?
    When has the National interest become International dependent?
    In the US, PBS does not air the Super Bowl or any major sporting events (let alone international) so why would it be different in Ukraine? This is really stupid.

    1. Avatar veth says:

      They bought the license, so they have to broadcast it.

  2. Avatar Screwdriver says:

    There are tons of Russian made programming on Ukrainian channels, why World Cup would be any different ? There is no problem at all.

    1. Avatar Brent says:

      I think they should televise it in Ukraine. Then REAL UKRAINIANS will get to watch Russia’s team lose……AGAIN. And they’ll get to see your Russo Nazzi’s in the stands make a$$e$ of themselves like you do every day with your idiotic lies and propaganda.

      That’s the beauty of free speech. Losers like yourself “out yourself” and the World gets to see what a pathetic loser you really are. Just like the KKK marches in Charlottesville. You think it’s free publicity to spread your disgusting filth and lies when really the World gets to see for itself what a pathetic lying Russo Nazzi you really are.

      You are your own worst enemy but too stoopid to realize it!!!

      1. Avatar Screwdriver says:

        Ой служив же я, служив пану католику,
        А тепер ему служити не стану до віку.
        Ой служив же я, служив пану бусурману,
        А тепер служити стану восточному царю.
        Ходить ляшок по риночку, шабельку виймае,
        Козак ляха не боиться — шапки не знімае.
        Ось ляшок до канчука, а козак до дрюка.
        От тут тобі, вражий сину, з душею розлука.

        1. Avatar Brent says:

          No, you “serve” the Russo Nazzi Lord Putin….

  3. Avatar Poposhenko says:

    I do not see a problem. Instead watching matches in agrrrrresssor country they can watch Simpsons, 2 and a half men and – very popuular! – ‘2 broke girls’.

  4. Avatar AmounRah says:

    This is quiet fascinating.
    For a country (or rather the leaders) that keep tarring Russia and lack of freedoms, Ukraine does not accept LGBT communities, bans languages, bans history, destroys statues, and CONTROLS THE TELEVISION and what performances happen in the country.

    They are heading veeeeeeeery quickly towards N.K.