Ukrainian broadcasting in Donbas: Content provided by independent media and public development of TV- and radio infrastructure


Kyiv, February 23, 2016. Independent public media are to create most of the contents for broadcasting both in Donbas and on the temporarily occupied territories. The state has no sufficient funds at present, but it can support non-governmental organizations and provide broadcasting facilities, digital in particular, said Serhiy Kostynskyi, member of the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine (NCTRB) at a round table discussion at Ukraine Crisis Media Center dedicated to development of independent broadcasting in Donbas. Kostynskyi believes that public broadcasting service in Donetsk and Luhansk regions provided by local branches of NCTRB are in need of independent budget to resume broadcasting on these territories. According to Zurab Alasania, director general of the National TV and Radio Company of Ukraine, it is planned to provide contents for Donbas from three sources: from state TV- and radio companies, non-governmental organizations and western partners.

According to Diana Dutsyk, executive director of NGO Telekrytyka, Donbas inhabitants do not accept private Ukrainian channels which are focused on “information wars”, and have no trust towards them. High-quality information from independent public media is needed. “What people want from media is conversation of what is really happening. If we avoid discussing problems with the army, gaps in the demarcation line and needs of people in these regions – they would not be interested in watching us. […] If media talk to the point, they will enjoy confidence and will be treated as reliable and friendly,” said Roman Shutov, expert on Russian proparanda monitoring and a program director at NGO Telekrytyka. According to him, it is important to choose the language that would not repel the audience, so that they do not switch the channel. We need to have clear understanding of myths and lies which were used to confuse these people, so that we know what truth must be emphasized and what is to be explained in detail.

Another question handled by the experts was research of the final consumer of Ukrainian contents. According to Andriy Kulykov, chairman of Hromadske Radio Board, the organization plans to finish audience measuring by the end of February. Nataliya Sokolenko, editor of the Hromadska Khvylia program  at Hromadske Radio, said that the organization plans to receive temporary FM frequency in Mariupol, Lysychansk, Popasna and Kostiantynivka, open a correspondent office with an on air studio in Kramatorsk, becoming a full-scale site for discussion of pressing problems of Donbas inhabitants, as well as extend the broadcasting network to other regions to provide information on the situation in Donbas.

Serhiy Harmash, editor-in-chief of OstroV, emphasized it is necessary to cover the realia of living in the temporarily occupied territories. “We need specific contents for the region and people influenced by Russian propaganda. […] This war was caused by myths – Soviet and imposed by Russian propaganda. The war started in minds,” said Harmash. He added that speaking of events is not enough. What is needed is going into the matter, explaining the reasons and busting myths.

According to Tetyana Popova, deputy minister of information policy of Ukraine, 44 transmitters were activated in the process of resuming Ukrainian broadcasting in Donbas, covering also the temporarily occupied territories. “Nevertheless, the tower closest to Luhansk is located in Shyrokyne, and it is 50 meters high.  Its signal may be received only in high buildings,” said Popova. Moreover, the self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic” is actively blanketing signals of Ukrainian broadcasters.  Popova said the plans are to renew a 180-metres TV tower on the Karachun mountain, develop the system of national TV- and radio broadcasting in Odesa and Kherson regions, launch radio broadcasting in Donetsk region, install a new TV-tower in Luhansk region and start construction in Donetsk region.