Monitoring: The extent of defamation of candidates equals to the magnitude of their appraisal
Number of paid materials in daily news did not increase comparing to the previous week. However, there was a significant increase of the number of "black PR" against the candidates. Candidates from the single-member districts started agitating for themselves in the news. Many identical paid materials were repeatedly shown on different TV channels.
On the election day, 5th channel and "1+1" did not air the main news programs replacing them with the telethon. On the other hand, weekly programs on ICTV, «Ukrayina" and "Inter" tried informing about the elections in a timely manner without violating the election law.
Team of "Chorne Dzerkalo” ("Inter") tried to prove that the politicians wasted the chances of the second Maidan. In “Pravo na vladu” (“1+1”), not without help of some experts, young politicians showed a tendency to play using the old rules.
Daily news from October 20-25 (detailed monitoring)
The number of "black PR" in the news against the candidates almost equaled to the number of positive paid materials. There is black PR against Kolomoyskyi, Sadovyi, Lyashko, Shevchenko, Yatsenko and others. There are paid materials in favor of the candidates from the single-member districts. Very often, the news on "Inter», ICTV, STB and "Ukrayina" aired identical in content and very similar in form materials about the participants of the election process.
"1+1" aired negative and unbalanced materials against single-member district candidate Volodymyr Pekhov. In addition, the channel aired a material against single-member district candidate Vitaliy Chudnovskyi who is close to the owner of "Inter" Serhiy Liovochkin. On October 23, the channel began its news program with a black PR against single-member district candidate Serhiy Kivalov.
"1+1" provided an exclusive platform for Oleksandr Turchynov. The programs also aired unjustified comments of Volodymyr Parasiuk, the unaffiliated candidate from Lviv region, Andriy Shevchenko, the candidate from “Batkivshchyna”, and the candidates Anatoliy Hrytsenko, Serhiy Mishchenko, Andriy Shypka, and Semen Semenchenko.
Two materials on Petro Poroshenko’s trip had insignificant comments and statements. In addition, there was a material with signs of paid news about Poroshenko’s wife taking care of sick children. The same material was shown on ICTV.
The channel continued its anti-campaign against Lyashko and repeatedly compared him with Yanukovych, blaming him in pressuring the media and electoral corruption.
On October 24, the last day when the channels could mention the parties and the candidates participating in the elections, "TSN" gave an unprecedented number of "black PR" against Petro Shkutiak, a rival of Oleksandr Shevchenko, who is close to Ihor Kolomoiskyi. The material’s author was stated as Hanna Petrenko, but we could not find the journalist with this name on the channel. The same material had open agitation for Oleksandr Shevchenko. Obviously, this was a reaction to the paid materials on "Inter" against Oleksandr Shevchenko, who appeared in "Podrobnosti" in the last days before the voting.
On the same day, the channel aired a special anti-Lyashko material: "1+1" hid the main sensation behind until the last moment, saying that the leader of Radical Party actually directed his exploits of so-called fighting against the separatists. The issues even used excerpt from the program of the studio "Kvartal 95" which mocked the radical. Another negative material on "TSN" was directed against the candidate Konstantyn Bryl.
On Saturday, October 25, there was a controversial appearance of Petro Poroshenko appealing to voters shown by the channels "1+1" "Ukrayina", First National and ICTV. "TSN" aired four excerpts of the President’s speech. Formally, Poroshenko could appear in the air since he is not a candidate, but the fact that one of the political parties participating in elections bears his name adds a certain controversy to the situation.
On October 20, “Fakty” on ICTV aired two materials with signs of paid news in favor of Poroshenko. The material about the founding congress of the youth Petro Poroshenko’s Block was also aired on STB.
After the material in favor of the President, the channel aired three materials in favor of opposition parties: "Opposition Block", "Sylna Ukrayina”, and “Zastup”. Almost identical materials appeared on STB and "Ukrayina". There were also paid materials in favor of “Batkivshchyna” (a similar story appeared on "Ukrayina", "Inter" and STB) and Radical Party.
On October 24, ICTV and "Ukrayina" showed identical materials with signs of paid news in favor of “Svoboda” and "Opposition Block." "Fakty", too, promoted “Sylna Ukrayina” and the candidate Olha Belkova who is close to the channel’s owner Viktor Pinchuk. Also, there were materials against the candidate from Petro Poroshenko’s Block Ruslan Solevar and black PR against Anton Yatsenko, a rival of Vitaliy Chudnovskyi.
ICTV, STB, and "Ukrayina" actively whirled the topic of the overheard conversation between Ihor Kolomoyskyi and Davyd Zhvaniya which authenticity has been proved. At the same time, the channels did not comply with the balance of opinions and used evaluative judgments. On the following days, October 23 and 24, Pinchuk’s channels continued to draw attention to this topic without balance, reliability and separating facts from comments.
On October 25, ICTV and "Ukrayina" aired a material about Kolomoyskyi allegedly interrupting the signal of 34th channel. "Sobytiya" aired a comment of “Narodnyi Front” candidate Viktoriya Syumar, but titrated her as a media expert which is the violation of the law. There are no comments of the representatives of Concern RRT.
“Podrobnosti” on "Inter" continued its anti-PR against Kolomoyskyi and his business. In addition to the governor of Dnipropetrovsk region, Andriy Sadovyi and his party “Samopomich” were objects of incessant attacks. In the material against this political force, there were accusations without balance. Also, the material violated the standards of reliability and separating facts from comments. Channel also paid attention to the overheard conversation between Ihor Kolomoiskyi and Davyd Zhvaniya that was commented by the representative of "Opposition Block" Nestor Shufrych.
In addition to Kolomoiskyi, "Inter" worked against the candidate Oleksandr Shevchenko who is close to Kolomoyskyi. Negative materials against him that violated the standards were shown on October 23 and 24. The authors of the material openly oppose Shevchenko to Peter Shkutyak, who, in return is criticized by "1+1".
On October 20, while violating all the standards except timeliness, there was a material against Anton Yatsenko, who is the rival of Vitaliy Chudnovsky, close to Serhiy Liovochkin. Another material against Yatsenko appeared on October, 24.
In general, “Podrobnosti” significantly increased the degree of criticism toward the authorities. After criticism in general, there was a criticism of “Opposition Block” regarding tender procedures. In order to promote “Opposition Block", "Inter" also uses inappropriate comments of the party representatives such as Serhiy Larin, Oleksandr Vilkul, and Vadym Rabynovich.
"Inter" continued the tradition of daily paid news digests promoting “Sylna Ukrayina”, “Hromadyanska Pozytsiya”, “Batkivshchyna”, “Opposition Block”, Radical Party, Petro Poroshenko’s Block, and “Nova polityka”.
“Podrobnosti” also openly agitated for the former Party of Regions’ deputy, and now, unaffiliated candidate Viktor Zherebnyuk. Also, the channel showed sympathy for other candidates on single-member districts such as Yaroslav Moskalenko, Mykola Shvets, and Volodymyr Kozak.
"Ukrayina" continued its daily praise of Rinat Akhmetov and his company DTEK. Among the guests in the studio, there were mostly candidates from “Opposition Block"- Vadym Rabynovych who illegally agitated in the program, Serhiy Larin, Ihor Boyko, Oleksandr Vilkul and others.
“Sobitiya” aired paid materials in favor of Petro Poroshenko’s Block, Radical party, “Opposition Block”, “Batkivshchyna”, and “Hromadyanska Pozytsiya”.
On October 24, before the day of silence, "Ukrayina" used “Sobitiya” for an agitation fair. The channel was visited by Yuliya Tymoshenko, the candidate from "Narodnyi Front" Pavlo Petrenko, the leader of Radical Party Oleh Lyashko, Nestor Shufrych from "Opposition Block "and a representative of the president's party Ruslan Knyazevych. The channel did not forget about charity of Rinat Akhmetov.
On the day of silence, “Sobitiya” promoted the charity of the owner.
During the week, “Vikna” aired paid materials in favor of Petro Poroshenko’s Block, “Zastup”, “Opposition Block”, and “Batkivshchyna”. Frankly propagandist material was about the candidate Volodymyr Borysenko. Identical material was shown on “Ukrayina”.
STB showed a comment of Semen Semenchenko without specifying his candidate status.
News on 5th Channel and First National remain free from paid materials. Still, on the day of silence, these channels aired materials with Poroshenko’s quotes that can be qualified as an indirect violation of the elections law.
During October 20-25, television news had 174 materials with signs of paid news, and that is three more comparing to the last week. The most important change was not quantitative growth of “black PR” and paid materials, but "malignant" manipulations to make people change their minds in the last minutes before the elections.
The number of "black PR" this week is almost equal to the positive (advertising) materials. The channels started to include the negative messages against certain candidates or political parties into paid news digests along with positive messages, and it was not done before.
"Inter" remained anti-leader with 58 materials, then, it is "Ukrayina" (38), ICTV (33), "1+1" (27), and STB (14). Very often, the channels broadcast similar paid materials.
"Opposition Block" is the most generous when paying for news (37 videos), then, Petro Poroshenko’s Block (24), "Batkivshchyna” (20), and "Sylna Ukrayina” (14).
The weekly programs on October, 26 (detailed monitoring)
On elections day, "1+1" and 5th channel had telethon instead of weekly news program. Weekly programs on ICTV, «Ukrayina" and "Inter" did not betray their traditions and aired news programs as usual. However, "Podrobnosti niedieli” expanded and made up a program for four hours, turning it into some sort of telethon, too.
Before the elections end, it is illegal to indicate any data of exit polls or even show people’s comments about the candidates they supported. That was why the channels aired comments of people saying that they voted for peace, stability, and Ukraine. "Fakty tyzhnia” on ICTV and "Sobitiya niedieli” on “Ukrayina” wanted to kill two birds with one stone; they tried to promptly inform the audience about the elections, analyze them, and do it without breaking the law. The newsrooms did not break any laws, but violated the standards. In particular, it was clear what channels favored particular political forces.
«Fakty tyzhnia z Oksanoyu Sokolovoyu” (ICTV) began with report on the voting in Donbas and added data on turnout, fighting, problems with the voting of the military, and the voting in the territories of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. Then, “Fakty tyzhnia” aired a material about voting of famous politicians. Even on the election day, the newsroom did not forget to praise the channel’s owner’s father-in-law Leonid Kuchma. His appearance in the material was hardly justified. Instead, there is a sympathetic attitude toward a leader of “Sylna Ukrayina” Serhiy Tihipko. Also, the author does not talk about “Samopomich” that has high chances of getting into parliament.
In the material by Maksym Kropyvnyi about the violations on elections day, the journalist provides the information about the turnout in Eastern Ukraine which is quite different from the version of his colleague Oleksandr Vizhin that was articulated in the first material. After completing the main program of "Fakty tyzhnia” at 20:00, the channel aired a special issue - "Fakty. Elections 2014" in which the newsroom analysed the data of exit polls and journalists aired live from headquarters.
Anchor of “Sobitiya nedeli” on channel “Ukrayina” Oleh Panyuta also begins the program with the information about elections in the East. However, in the material by journalist Roman Sukhan, the latter focuses not only on the problems on the East, but also goes to discuss the future division of forces in the parliament. The journalist selectively presents a comment of "potential partners" of pro-presidential party, although many parties may join the coalition.
In the information about the elections in Luhansk region, Oleh Panyuta calls the voting calm. First, the host does not specify who exactly describes the election as "calm", and secondly, it is difficult to name the elections in this area as such since they are not taking place throughout the entire region.
A newsroom made a good decision inviting for a live broadcast a representative of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine Vitaliy Teslenko, with whom, unlike politicians, it was possible to discuss the election day without agitation. Despite this, from the very beginning, the visitor started to go beyond the competence and analyze electoral programs of the parties. But Oleh Panyuta stopped such political reflections in time.
Later, the channel aired a material of the political columnist Nataliya Kravchenko on expectations from the new parliament, where the journalist compared two events - Maydan of 2004 and Euromaydan, and made a subjective decision that ten years ago, the politicians had set up a slow action bomb. The material has exclusively subjective judgments, with the fantastic predictions of the future and accents in the style of infotainment. Despite this, the material has justified and professional expert opinions. While talking about the possibility of a quick dissolution of the newly elected parliament, the author gives only her own predictions that resemble political and technological suggestions.
In contrast to “Fakty tyzhnia”, colleagues from "Ukrayina" provided the information on the elections in a foreign district. In the video, the correspondents focus on a few countries such as Russia, Poland and Italy.
"Podrobnosti niedieli” on “Inter” were in a better position thanks to the traditional time of the program at 8pm. Thanks to that, the journalists could provide viewers with examples of exit polls. “Podrobnosti niedieli" had previously ordered its own exit poll that was presented during the program. The results of NIS research were more or less accurate, but the newsroom did not mention the alternative exit polls. Other channels used data of at least several exit polls.
Instead of addressing all aspects of the elections day, NIS used 4-hour broadcast mainly for talking with the guests, especially the representatives of "friendly" parties. The biggest surprise was the appearance of Vira Ulyanchenko, the leader of the party "Zastup". This is the party that was repeatedly caught bribing voters during the campaign. Moreover, during the broadcast, the journalist Olena Zorina estimated that "Zastup" scored a good result. In addition to lengthy comments, Vira Ulyanchenko also personally appeared in the studio. This is despite the fact that the entire four-hour broadcast did not have any guests from “Sylna Ukrayina”, “Samopomich”, and “Hromadyanska Pozytsiya”.
Instead, guests in the studio were: Vadym Rabynovich, Nestor Shufrych ("Opposition Block"), Serhiy Vlasenko, Oleksandra Kuzhel ("Batkivshchyna"), Andriy Parubiy, Vyacheslav Konstantinovskyi ("Narodnyi Front"), Oleh Lyashko (Radical Party), Ruslan Koshulynskyi ("Svoboda"), Boryslav Bereza ("Pravyi Sektor").
The channel did not invite anyone from “Petro Poroshenko’s Block” to the studio, but showed the headquarters of the presidential party where Yevheniy Kyseliov asked Yuriy Lutsenko and Vitaliy Klychko, and then, Poroshenko himself.
Unlike other channels, "Inter" continues to cover the events in the occupied part of Ukraine - Crimea. This time, the newsroom analyzed the way Crimean people voted.
Just like “Sobitiya niedieli”, newsroom of “Podrobnosti niedieli” focused on the foreign district. Journalists aired from the US, Russia, Belgium, Germany, and England.
Talk show "Pravo na vladu" (October 23) and "Chorne dzerkalo" (October24) (detailed monitoring)
In the last issue before the elections, the staff of "Pravo na vladu" violated the standard of balance and showed unequal treatment of participants in order to promote some political forces that do not hide their friendly attitude to the channel’s owner.
First, the staff invited Andriy Shevchenko from “Batkivshchyna”, who first announced his participation, and then, denied it citing the staff of the program and the invitation of Yuriy Boyko from “Opposition Block” as a replacement. Second, among the experts who analyzed the participants’ statements, at least two had a conflict of interests. It was the representative of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine Oleksiy Koshel, whose old friend and a colleague Oleksandr Chernenko, the former head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine runs for the parliament as #21 in “Petro Poroshenko’s Block”.
The most problematic aspect was the participation of Darya Kalenyuk, the executive director of the Center for Fighting Corruption. The thing is that #1 in “Samopomich” Hanna Hopko is a managing member of the Center, and №17 of the party Ostap Yednak also represents it. Thus, two of the four experts could not have an open conversation with two participants of the show.
Because of this conflict of interests, the experts’ questions to the participants become a game of giveaway. In particular, Darya Kalenyuk asked the member of the Center’s managing board Hanna Hopko easy questions that appealed to her work and past experience. Both participants of this game understood everything well, but pretended they did not know each other. An example of an easy question is Kalenyuk’s appeal to Hopko with an "open question" about the problem of medicine for seriously ill patients. Hopko had a chance to promote herself while answering this question.
When Hanna Hopko had to answer real questions, not blanks, she often ignored the essence of questions asked by the anchor and the “1+1” journalist and kept on focusing on the electoral messages of “Samopomich”.
Unfortunately, neither the host nor Serhiy Shvets pressured Hopko to answer directly while they treated a pro-presidential party representative in a harsher way.
In the end, the audience’s voting in favor of Hopko and against Kniazevych only emphasized unequal opportunities for participants during the show and showed how easy it was to manipulate the public opinion, without disclosing all information and all communications between participants and the experts.
It is difficult to analyze all the plot twists in “Chorne dzerkalo” on "Inter" without a particular retrospective. For example, only after the phrase of the channel’s owner and №12 in «Opposition Block" Serhiy Liovochkin during post-election press conference, it became clear why the channel invited Boryslav Bereza from “Pravyi Sektor” to the studio on October 28. The author of monitoring does not claim that the two newly elected deputies have the same speechwriter. However, Bereza or Teriokhin would not be invited to the studio if their words did not confirm the statements made by "Opposition Block" representatives.
Once again, “Chorne dzerkalo” humiliated the Prime Minister and "Narodnyi Front" without providing the representatives of the party with an opportunity to reply and defend themselves. Yevheniy Kyseliov did not explain the absence of Yatseniuk’s party representatives. Among all the materials accusing the Prime Minister and his political party, there are two worth mentioning. The first one is about Ihor Skosar admitting that he bought a place in the list of "Batkivshchyna” in 2012 and the comment of the journalist Oleh Havrysh.
Skosar’s story on "Inter" has a distinct discrediting attitude against Yatseniuk and his “gray cardinal" Mykola Martynenko. Since it wants to humiliate him, it involves spreading negative information without giving the accused side the right to justify or reply.
“Chorne dzerkalo” did a similar thing for discrediting “Samopomich” when the director Mark Hres invited to the studio a "soldier" of the battalion "Donbas" Doberman who accused Semen Semenchenko. However, Boryslav Bereza said that accussing someone who is absent was not right, and Kiseliov had to agree. Bereza did not comment the accusations against Yatseniuk.
The only time when Kiseliov and Likhman appeared more as journalists than manipulators occurred during their conversation with a representative of "Svoboda" Andriy Mokhnyk. Both anchors pressured the minister from “Svoboda” demanding him to reply with a certainty whether he will be in the government or in the opposition to it. The responses of Mokhnyk showed how opportunistic politicians can be who are supposedly following the "national idea". On the other hand, Oleh Havrysh’s desire to switch facts and accuse “Svoboda” in Yanukovych’s sins looked like humiliation of the opponent with baseless allegations.
Before the elections, Kiselyov and his team still reached the top of manipulative skills. Well-matched participants did all the "dirty work" for them. Pushing the right “buttons” for the needed effect was the only thing the host had to do.
Monitoring of compliance with professional standards in the information services of Ukrainian TV channels was carried by NGO "Telekritika" with financial support by USAID, provided through the "Internews Network". The purpose of monitoring is to increase media literacy of Ukrainian society, motivate media to be just and responsible, respect professional standards, and improve the quality of media products.
Monitoring of compliance with professional standards in the information services of Ukrainian TV channels was carried by NGO "Telekritika" as a part of the project “Strengthening informational society in Ukraine” supported by Council of Europe. The purpose of monitoring is to increase media literacy of Ukrainian society, motivate media to be just and responsible, respect professional standards, and improve the quality of media products.
Monitoring is an independent expert assessment of the NGO "Telekritika." All conclusions and opinions expressed in all monitoring publications may not necessarily reflect the views of Council of Europe.