Ukrainian Journalists to Launch Online TV Channel
A group of Ukrainian journalists announced that they will launch an independent online television channel they call Hromadske.tv in September. They expect financial support from international and Ukrainian donors as well as from advertising.
Press freedom in Ukraine has declined to the point that it ranked 126 out of 179 on the 2013 World Press Freedom Index, the worst showing since the 2004 Orange Revolution. Journalists have complained of rising censorship since President Viktor Yanukovych took office in 2010. Violence against journalists, much of which has gone unpunished, has made it hard for independent news outlets to work.
Just last month at a rally in Kyiv a crowd attacked two journalists when one tried to film the crowds with a cell phone. As they were beat, the police failed to step in despite calls for help. According to the independent news website Ukrainska Pravda the attackers worked for Ukraine’s ruling Party of Regions. The attack angered local journalists who spent a week protesting outside government buildings. This event illustrates the struggles that members of the Ukrainian press can face in carrying out their work.
Journalists say their new public channel will give Ukrainians objective information as opposed to the coverage generated by mainstream, state-owned TV channels.
“As a sane person, I don’t watch TV for news,” said Roman Skrypin, one of the channel’s founders.
The founding group includes journalists formerly of Ukraine’s TVi, one of the few independent media outlets in Ukraine and perhaps the only one to investigate high-level corruption and openly criticize President Yanukovych. Their jobs ended in late April when new owners acquired TVi under murky circumstances.
On April 29, more than 30 broadcast journalists quit in protest over the takeover and the demands of the new managers. As OCCRP reported, TVi was taken over by raiders over the course of five days in “a dizzying series of transactions involving companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and United Kingdom took place amid allegations of fraud and forgery.”
According to the website of the new Internet channel, 15 journalists are currently working for Hromadske.tv. The channel has uploaded a number of videos to a YouTube site and is active on major social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
In a recent Facebook post they note the importance and the power of an informed Ukrainian public. Public broadcasting will raise awareness and replace censorship with freedom.