Kyiv, December 8, 2015. Ukrainian TV and radio companies are gradually restoring broadcasting in Donbas after ф 10-month interruption. Donetsk regional TV and radio company that was earlier called “27th channel” has changed the name to “Do tebe” (eng. – “to you”) entering its new stage. Occasionally the new media concept in Donetsk region turned out to be similar to the abbreviation “DOTB” (Donetsk regional TV and radio company). “Our task is to give people an opportunity to hear objective information not propaganda that is pouring from all radio sets,” noted Illya Suzdaliev, chief editor at Donetsk regional TV and radio company at a press briefing via Skype at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Donetsk regional TV and radio company is currently broadcasting 24/7. “Our own content that we produce by ourselves covers a bit more than one hour per day. Other programs are compiled from best pieces of content provided by partner Ukrainian TV channels, state TV and radio companies, Hromadske TV channel of Donetsk region, Radio Liberty and other partners. However, we plan to gradually increase our own production,” says Suzdaliev. At the moment TV broadcasting is available in cable and digital formats almost across the entire Ukraine-control territory in Donetsk region including in Krasnoarmiysk, Kramatorsk, Sloviansk and Volnovakha. According to Suzdaliev, broadcasting is restored at least in one town per month.
Luhansk regional state TV and radio company owns 12 analogue TV transmitters and two additional FM transmitters that make up a unified network for Luhansk and Donetsk regions and cover the entire Ukraine-controlled territory of Donbas. “We are producing own radio content. Local news is out every hour, national news – every 15 minutes,” said Andriy Shapovalov, director of the Luhansk regional state TV and radio company. Two news programs based on local materials are compiled daily. Projects “Each life is a hope” and “Health is more important” have been re-started, new project “Luhansk region: liberation” has been launched, most interesting of the Radio Liberty and Hromadske Radio projects are also broadcast.
Main problems that the media sector is facing are lack of funding and technical capacities. For example, personnel of the Donetsk regional TV and radio company has to be using personal photo and video cameras, computers. Due to lack of space the TV studio and the director’s office are located in the same room. Their Luhansk colleagues have a similar situation. “It is quite hard in terms of funding. We received the money for technical equipment promised to us earlier this year only a month ago. Procurement procedures are delayed,” says Shapovalov. Moreover, specific situation in the region creates serious problems. As Donetsk region is actually split by the enclave of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) it is extremely complicated for journalists from the north of the region to get to Mariupol to shoot their stories. Thus, they often ask their partners to produce stories.
Serious challenge is the fact that the highest and best equipped TV towers of Donbas – in Luhansk and Donetsk are currently controlled by the militant groups. These towers power the work of 32 TV channels and of about 20 radio frequencies. Moreover, the signal of the 600-meter TV tower in Petrovsky district of Donetsk is so powerful that it sometimes interrupts the work of Ukrainian TV channels even on the territories located far from the contact line, for example in Krasnoarmiysk. At the same time it is sometimes possible to catch Ukrainian radio waves on the temporarily occupied territories especially on those ones close to the contact line. State radio Pulse was broadcast in Luhansk at 99.5 FM frequency last month, Hromadske Radio can also be listened to in the city, Radio 24 is available in Donetsk. “Since last Saturday our radio can be listened to in occupied Pervomaysk, Teplohirsk and Stakhanov at 105.9 FM,” added Shapovalov. TV and radio companies plan to gradually increase part of own content and widen broadcasting to new areas. According to Shapoval people from the occupied areas call up and “thank that they can hear some objective information.” It stimulates the media professionals to continue their work.