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Media coalition demands end to attacks on Ukraine’s public broadcasting company

Ukraine’s public broadcasting company, Suspilne, is facing a series of “informational and institutional attacks,” according to a statement released by a group of journalists and media organizations.
Suspilne public broadcaster Ukraine kyiv
The headquarters of Suspilne, the “pencil” building in Kyiv, halted operations in November 2022 to save costs and decrease the risk of Russian missile strikes. Photo: Detektor Media
Media coalition demands end to attacks on Ukraine’s public broadcasting company

A coalition of Ukrainian media organizations and journalists called the Media Movement (Mediarukh) has issued a statement calling for an end to pressure on Suspilne, the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine, and increase its funding.

The creation of Suspilne is one of the successful post-Euromaidan reforms in Ukraine, Mediarukh says. It is one of the few TV channels in Ukraine producing politically independent content, according to the media watchdog Detektor Media, and therefore offers an alternative to politicians’ ubiquitous manipulations of the public discourse to suit their electoral goals. The perceived pressure on Suspilne, therefore, is seen as a danger to Ukraine’s media plurality and standing as a democracy.

The statement by the media coalition, which was released on 30 April, accuses certain politicians and government officials of attempting to undermine the independence and financial stability of the public broadcaster.

According to the statement, “Over the past week, a series of informational and institutional attacks on Public Broadcasting have taken place in the public space.” These alleged attacks include the spread of false information about Suspilne’s budget and the remuneration of its supervisory board members by Mariana Bezuhla, a member of parliament from President Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People faction.

The Media Movement also accuses some channels producing the influential national newscast launched with Russia’s full-blown invasion of Ukraine, also called the TV-marathon, of promoting the idea of depriving Suspilne of its evening prime time slots, which have the largest audience reach. “As of today, evening prime time is produced by each broadcaster producing the TV-marathon in turn,” the statement notes.

In addition, the Media Movement claims that the Ministry of Finance has informed Suspilne about its funding level for 2025, which is reportedly UAH 350 million ($8.8 million) less than the broadcaster’s budget for 2024 and over 75% less than the legislated amount. The group warns that this level of funding “will put the broadcaster on the brink of survival.”

The statement asserts that Suspilne “is an example of one of the most successful reforms implemented after the Revolution of Dignity,” citing monitoring reports and testimonies from Ukrainian and international organizations. It also notes that the broadcaster’s audience trust increased from 60.5% in 2020 to 86% in 2023.

“During martial law, monitoring of compliance with journalistic standards in the TV-marathon also shows that among all broadcasters, Suspilne is the most balanced in giving the floor to representatives of political factions in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine,” the statement adds. “Thus, during the war, Public Broadcasting properly fulfills its role of informing the public about events of significant public interest.”

The Media Movement calls on various government bodies and officials, including the President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada, and the Ministry of Finance, to take steps to protect Suspilne’s independence and funding. It also urges the embassies of Ukraine’s partner countries “to increase attention to preserving freedom of speech in Ukraine as a pillar of democracy and the public broadcaster as a flagship of media reforms in Ukraine.”

Read the full Mediarukh statement here.

  • One day earlier, a coalition of Ukrainian media NGOs also pushed back against Bezuhla’s claims and the planned slash to Suspilne’s funding with a statement accusing Ukraine of slacking on its EU integration obligations in the sphere of media independence.
  • Disclaimer: Euromaidan Press is a participant of Mediarukh
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