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Election of Alasania as Chair of National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (NPBCU): the miracle happened
You can read this article also in Ukrainian.
On 10 April the supervisory board of NPBCU elected Zurab Alasania as chairman of the public broadcaster. The election was held in two rounds. In the first round, two front runners of the election – Zurab Alasania and Oleh Nalyvayko – received 8 votes each (the 17th vote went to Roman Vybranovskyi). In the second round, the voting pattern changed in favor of Alasania: 10 for him and 7 for Nalyvayko.
At the beginning of the election, seven out of eight candidates arrived, all but Oleh Nalyvayko. He came in the afternoon. The candidates presented themselves in alphabetical order.
It can be said with no exaggeration that a miracle happened. Firstly, the Supervisory Board prescribed such a procedure for a second round, in which its members could vote both for and against the two candidates and therefore could easily make the voting neverending. Secondly, on the last working day of the previous week according to the forecast of Alasania's "support group", he could have received only 7 votes and there was information that he is considered undesirable in some government offices. Thirdly, there was a plan to undermine the election.
The miracle was created by the "democratic wing" of the Supervisory Board, specialized NGOs, Western donors and those journalists from NPBCU who supported Alasania. Together, they promoted in the sidelines and in the public space the main argument in Alasania's favor, which is his independence from the government and from the oligarchs and his usual uncompromising attitude. Over the last few weeks before the election, the representatives of the West also made clear to the members of the Supervisory Board and to the interested politicians the thought that they will provide grants for the development of the public broadcaster only managed by a candidate which is independent from political and business influences.
One can only imagine the number of phone calls, text messages and invitations to coffee, which the members of the Supervisory Board received during the preparation to the elections; I think, there were attempts to press on them by the authorities, politicians and other stakeholders asking them not to vote for Alasania. But you know nothing about pressure, if you did not see how the western diplomats came in the morning on 10 April to the elections and listened to the speech of Alasania with eloquent silence, and then they came again in the evening to observe the voting.
In the foreground: the members of the Supervisory Board Vyacheslav Kozak, Darya Karyakina and Oleksiy Panych. In the background: manager of the development of media projects of OSCE Project Coordinator Maryna Bezkorovayna, director of the International Renaissance Foundation Yevhen Bystrytsky, Wayne Sharpe and Marjorie Rouse (Internews Network)
Behind the NPBCU Supervisory Board member Viktor Taran - project coordinator of the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine Olha Syedova, Halyna Smirnova and Iryna Ostapa (Council of Europe), and media lawyer of CEDEM Ihor Rozkladay.
Spokesman for the EU Delegation in Ukraine David Stulik
First Deputy Chair of the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting Olha Herasymyuk
There were fears that Oleh Lyashko will come to the elections and try to undermine them in some way (we will leave to future historians the task to figure out who exactly encouraged him to try to withdraw Vyacheslav Kozak from the Supervisory Board). These fears were in vain. And Viktoriya Syumar, who indirectly but obviously tried to help Lyashko last week during the meeting of the Committee on Freedom of Speech, as she later explained, for the sake of votes of the Radical Party in favor of the draft of the law on quotas on Ukrainian language on TV, wrote a post on Facebook in the afternoon of 10 April. She assured in it that she never wanted to compete for the chair of the board of NPBCU (and that was the motive she was incriminated with for her alleged desire to undermine the elections). And she added that "the candidate she hopes to win knows about her support".
On the sidelines it was known, that immediately after the international conference on 7 April, during which thanks to Mustafa Nayem information about these accusations of the media community to the address of ViktoriyaSyumar went public, the chair of the committee met with Alasania. According to the information obtained from Nataliya Lyhachova, there have been many consultations and negotiations among the stakeholders at the weekend.
Historic moment: counting committee counts the ballots and the public follows the counting
Eventually, the results of the election of the NPBCU chair became a litmus test, which showed that despite all the skepticism, Ukraine is still able to choose the path of reform and it is primarily due to activity of the public and to the openness of the process. And Ukrainian people in power are sometimes able to give up personal interests under the influence of this openness.
I would like to expressly mention the words of the Supervisory Board member Yevhen Hlibovytsky, who publicly apologized after the vote to the chair of the Supervisory Board Tetyana Lebedyeva for once expressed accusations against her of being biased and called her a truly independent chair.
Member of the Supervisory Board Yevhen Hlibovytskyi
So what shall we now wait for?
As for me, the most important challenge for Zurab Alasania in the nearest future will become the significant personnel reduction at NPBCU which he announced. It was he who said that communication with the labor unions had never been his strong suit. Now he hopes to hire a strong HR-manager and entrust him with this process. In this context, I would advise the same NGOs and Western donors, which have so successfully secured the election of Alasania, to work with professional and creative unions in a gentle and convincing manner. And the new management of NPBCU should just in case prepare for the negativity in the media against them and to lawsuits.
Zurab Alasania, Roman Vybranovskyi
The uniqueness of the public broadcaster is that it can have a positive impact not only on the public, but also on commercial broadcasters. And this impact can be either indirect, as an example of application of journalistic standards in the news, or quite direct, if it is in a special way included into the legislatively set co-regulation mechanism. Currently, the work on the mechanism of co-regulation continues in the framework of preparation of a draft of the law on audiovisual services. As far as I know, now it is controlled by major commercial broadcasters. But life is unpredictable.
And what definitely the public broadcaster shall not do, is to influence the market negatively. Answering to the question about the low ratings of "UA: Pershyi", Zurab Alasania expressed dissatisfaction with the current system of television audience measurement rating and announced the introduction of an alternative to it, which is a poll. But it should be understood that a lot of effort was spent to establish a common system of measurement once and its importance is in the need of a single currency for market, which is trusted by all buyers and sellers of advertisement.
By the way, I belong to those people who believe that ratings are important for the public broadcaster. Of course, it should have its own set of KPIs which arise from the nature and purpose of the public broadcaster and they should not be limited only to the ratings. But ratings show the viewers' attention. Without the viewers' attention, the public broadcaster can not become a major player and really influence the information consumers tastes and the quality of the media market.
Candidates: Roman Vybranovskyi, YuriiDarahan
Secretary of the Supervisory Board Vadym Miskyi
Member of the Supervisory Board IhorKhokhych
Member of the Supervisory Board VitaliiPortnikov
Chair of the Board Tatiana Lebedyeva, Deputy Chair SvitlanaOstapa
Members of the Supervisory Board: Taras Shevchenko, Viktor Taran
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Телеканал новин «24»
Телеканал «NEWS ONE»
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