Monitoring: The channels serve the interests of owners in problematic districts
In the news, there is a large amount of paid materials on election results in problematic districts. Half of them is in favor of "Opposition Block", whose interests are being defended by "Inter", "Ukrayina», ICTV, and STB. "1+1" opposes them. Every day, "Ukrayina" advertises the charity of its owner Rinat Akhmetov. The amount of "parquet" stories has increased. On the talk shows, there are more and more new people, and we can see a gradual shift from the format of political and technological blanks.
Daily news issues on November 3-8 (detailed monitoring)
"Inter" does not stop trying to influence the outcome of disputes on "problematic" districts, where the representatives of “Opposition Block” claim victory. The entire week, “Podrobnosti” paid a lot of attention to the districts where the victory of former Party of Regions’ members is being challenged by so-called "Kolomoyskyi’s people". Traditionally, these materials have no balance and present the comments of "Opposition Block" representatives that have no direct relation to the conflict.
"Inter" also violates the standards in ordinary, "peaceful" materials like in the video about the lawsuit of Rivne pensioner against Cabinet of Ministers where the channel shows one-sided information without unilateral positions of housing and communal services.
"Inter" does not stop attacking the party "Samopomich" either. “Inter” shows the scandal in the party "Volya", which members got into the parliament in the list of “Samopomich”, as a split in “Samopomich”. The channel presented only the position of one part of “Volya” that orients on Yuriy Derevyanko. The position of the other parties involved in the conflict is not present. The next day, "Inter" continued to spin this topic. This time, the material is formally balanced thanks to the dry comment by the deputy chairman Oleh Berezyuk, but we cannot say that the positions of all parties are shown appropriately and fully.
On November 3, “Podrobnosti” had more than just elections advertising; it also aired one material in favor of the Regions’ deputy Borys Kolesnikov and his charity, and another material about its owner Dmytro Firtash and his round table in Vienna.
In the news, "Inter" aired a suspicious material in favor of "Batkivshchyna” about the controversial election results in Kherson. Previously, “Opposition Block” was the only party to defend its interests this way. In another material about the electoral fraud, there are unjustified comments of the deputy Oleksandra Kuzhel and the candidate Oleksandr Spivakovskyi who said nothing meaningful. In the same issue, the channel violates the standards of authenticity and separating facts from comments.
In the news materials, "Inter" violated the standard of separating facts from comments.
TSN continued the campaign supporting “its” candidates in problem districts. The materials accuse candidates from "Opposition Block" in the fraud. The position of the accused people is not represented.
On November, 5, "1+1" showed a "parquet" video about Iryna Herashchenko’s trip to Mariupol where the President’s representative did not say anything important or new.
Two days in a row, TSN advertises in favor of "PrivatBank" and is suspicious about stealing the oil from pipelines. The material has no facts and concrete information while it is filled with accusations.
"1+1" aired a "parquet" material about the trip of Maryna Poroshenko. "Inter" also showed an unreasonable attention to the President's wife.
"1+1" violated the standard of balance of opinions in the material about the soldiers who lost limbs during the fighting in Donbas. The wounded soldiers accuse the authorities of saving money on their treatment, but the officials did not have an opportunity to answer these accusations.
When covering the conflict between Kyiv Prosecutor Serhiy Yuldashev and volunteer battalions, the channel openly supports the battalions. The channel does not show Yuldashev’s position, and Semen Semenchenko is the only one commenting on the behalf of the battalions. The channel shows two comments by Semenchenko who was recently elected as a deputy from “Samopomich” and openly supported by Kolomoyskyi’s media.
"Sobitiya" also join the campaign in favor of "Opposition Block" in the videos about the problematic districts. These materials appear without the balance in the coverage of the parties involved in the conflict and without separating facts from comments.
Traditionally, “Ukrayina” airs unnecessary references to the channel’s owner Rinat Akhmetov. In the story about the death of two teenagers hit by a projectile in Donetsk, “Sobitiya” "Inter", STB and ICTV stressed that Rinat Akhmetov studied at the school that was close to the tragedy scene, although Akhmetov could not have any connections to the tragedy. Subsequently, the channel used a funeral of the killed students as a tool to praise its owner. On November 6, “Sobitiya” aired three materials about the charity of Rinat Akhmetov.
Moreover, "Ukrayina" advertises Akhmetov’s associate Borys Kolesnikov when talking about his charitable foundation. Corporate advertising returns to the news of “Ukrayina”, and the channel advertises the bank PUMB that belongs to Akhmetov.
"Fakty" also defended the position of "Opposition Block" in problematic districts. This time, the channel aired the position of the former Party of Regions’ member Ryzhenkov, but did not air a position of the Central Election Commission or Ryzhenkov’s opponent. Similar violations were seen in the news of "Ukrayina". On November 5, “Fakty” violated the balance of opinions in covering the conflict between the candidates on the problematic districts and accuse Kolomoyskyi directly in election fraud.
In addition, the materials about problematic districts also show comments of the representatives of "Opposition Block" that have no direct relation to the conflict.
ICTV also aired a “parquet” material about Arseniy Yatseniuk’s statements. ICTV continued to pay an unreasonable amount of attention to the President's wife. “Fakty” also paid too much attention to Vitaliy Klychko although there was no reason for it. The channel spoke about Klychko awarding the finalists of nationwide children's competition "Eco-ideas from all over the world."
Somewhat less, "Vikna" on STB also joined the campaign in support of the former Party of Regions in problematic districts.
First National has too much of parquet materials. For instance, the entire material about the hospital "Okhmatdyt" is built around the promise of the first deputy prime minister Volodymyr Hroysman to resume and complete the new building. Due to the fact that the First National did not have paid materials before, we can assume that this material was the result of lack of professionalism.
On the 5th channel, we did not see any paid materials.
Most of the materials with paid news features are related to the struggle for the election results in the single-member districts in Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk regions. "Inter", "Ukrayina», ICTV and sometimes STB support “Opposition Block”, or Serhiy Lyovochkin showing sympathy for the ex-Party of Regions who are not unaffiliated or represent “Opposition Block”. “1+1” is the only channel opposing them.
"Ukrayina" and "Inter" are very conscientious in promoting “Opposition Block”. In particular, "Ukrayina" is inviting guests who represent this party. They commented the conflicts on the single-member districts where formally, the party did not even nominate its candidates.
During a week, there were 50 paid materials. The most were on “Ukrayina” (21), followed by "Inter" and ICTV (10), "1+1" (3), and STB (1). There was a questionable material on First National (one suspicious video), and there were no paid news on 5th Channel.
“Opposition Block” paid for half of the materials. Rinat Akhmetov takes second place since “Ukrayina” promotes his charity (12 materials). Then goes “Batkivshchyna” (3 materials).
Weekly news programs on November, 9 (detailed monitoring)
Paid materials did not disappear after the elections. In the final weekly program, “Ukrayina” continued to use the tragedy over the death of schoolchildren in Donetsk as a tool to promote its owner Rinat Akhmetov. "Sobitiya Niedieli" had two more parquet materials about Maryna Poroshenko meeting with the Ambassador of Japan in Ukraine Shyhike Sumi and the charity of Borys Kolesnikov.
Paid materials appeared on channels depending on the interests of the channels’ respective owners regarding problematic districts.
When covering the situation in the problem districts, "Fakty tyzhnia" on ICTV described the position of the Chairman of the CEC Mykhaylo Okhendovskyi who spoke of pressure. In his statement, there were accusations against Ihor Kolomoyskyi. The answer of Dnipropetrovsk oligarch regarding the accusations was not shown in the program although it appeared before its release. The conflict within the party "Volya" was presented in a balanced way.
In the material on the appearance of the border guards in some ATO areas, the journalist Maksym Krapivnyy made two logical errors regarding the divisions of areas and suppression of the financing of the occupied territories.
"Sobitiya Niedieli" on "Ukrayina" paid the most of attention to the topic of problematic districts. The issue also presents Okhendovskyi’s comment about the pressure and accusations against Kolomoyskyi for trying to rig the elections in problematic districts. The answer of Dnipropetrovsk governor is not present.
When speaking about the 79th electoral district, the host used another chance to "bite" Ihor Kolomoyskyi. Thus, without checking the information, he said that "Pravyi Sektor" appeared near Regional Electoral Committee.
"Ukrayina" put the material about stopping financing Donbas in the beginning of the issue. In the video by Nataliya Kravchenko, the journalist successfully notices the "white spot" of the decision to cancel social payments starting on December, 1 that are given to the children and the elderly. The journalist also draws attention to the uncertainty of the mechanism that would be used to implement the government's decision. She also presents the comment of the Luhansk governor Hennadiy Moskal, who says he has no right to talk about it.
“TSN. Tyzhden” on "1+1" became a real newsmaker this time. One day before the issue, some kind of an announcement appeared on the Internet that said that “1+1” would show how Mykhaylo Okhendovskyi took a bribe for a "correct" vote count. As a result, CEC Chairman hurried to present some excuses, without waiting for the material to be aired. He also accused Ihor Kolomoyskyi in pressuring the commission.
However, this supposedly top-investigation appeared by the end of the program. The material itself had no incriminating evidence. Journalist Ruslan Kharchenko begins the video with a subjective evaluation about the struggle taking place in the single-member districts between the representatives of Maydan and the representatives of "Yanukovych regime." The focus is on the 59th district where the deputy commander of "Dnipro" Valentyn Manko is a candidate. This battalion was initiated by Ihor Kolomoyskyi, the owner of "1+1". The journalist presents unsubstantiated allegations of Manko’s opponent and other evaluations and judgments.
Using tailored and biased data and facts that have features of a fraud, the journalist voices allegations against Mykhaylo Okhendovskyi for taking bribes. A key argument was footage of a man who looked like Mykhaylo Okhendovskyi coming into one of the offices in the center of Kyiv. There was no strong confirmation to support the charges in the video. Instead, the material by Ruslan Zakharchenko is constructed around evaluations, judgments, and hints.
Olha Kashpor’s material in "TSN.Tyzhden" about the abolition of the social payments is filled with comments of the top officials: there are three comments of the President Poroshenko, one belongs to the Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, four – to the Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak, two – to Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov.
Thus, the general spirit of the material is in favor of the government, and there is no criticism or even alternative views on government decisions.
Just as expected, "Inter" presented the situation on the problematic districts totally opposite to “1+1” in its weekly program. The host Dmytro Anopchenko spoke with Oleksandr Vilkul about the "unclean" elections. Vilkul defended the interests of "his candidate" in the 38th district Vadym Nesterenko. At the very beginning, the host states with confidence that Ukraine can no longer have "clean elections". After that, the newsroom presents the comment of Okhendovskyi where he accuses Kolomoyskyi in pressure as well as blames the deputy governor of Dnipropetrovsk region Borys Filatov, who, in fact, threatens the head of the CEC.
The government's decision to abolish social payments was of a prime interest for "Inter". The channel paid attention to the situation in Crimea, and other channels did not do it. In the studio, Dmytro Anopchenko talked about the problems in Crimea with Oles Doniy and Serhiy Kunitsyn, the former Prime Minister of the peninsula. This is one of the few examples of high-quality and professional choice of guests. Mr. Kunitsyn was able to explain that it was not Ukraine reducing the water supply to Sevastopol. “Podrobnosti niedieli” also paid attention to the fuel supply to the uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In the very beginning of “Chas. Pidsumky Tyzhnia” on 5th Channel, the host Vitaliy Haydukevych sets the tone for the whole broadcast: between the lines, you can hear only a positive attitude toward the government’s decisions. The journalists of the 5th Channel drew attention to the energy supply issue in the areas controlled by separatists. Once again, “Chas. Pidsumky Tyzhnia” ignored the topic of election results in problematic districts.
Talk shows Shuster Live and Svoboda slova with Andriy Kulykov on November, 7-14 (detailed monitoring)
After the end of the parliamentary campaign, both Shuster Live and Svoboda slova with Andriy Kulykov started presenting new faces.
Among the guests at Shuster Live, the representatives of the current potential ruling coalition dominated, and that made the discussion less sharp since most of participants showed similarities in the positions. Nevertheless, there was a lot of criticism, including the one to the President; it should be noted that during these moments, the unaffiliated candidates (such as Volodymyr Parasiuk) or civil activists (Oleksiy Mochanov) were more open, although they apparently still lack some preparedness. Instead of meaningful support of the stated goals, they get purely emotional support as "our guys".
Representatives of the pro-presidential block showed a higher level of loyalty, avoiding direct criticism of the president. The process of "growing" into the political establishment and excessive tolerance toward the existing rules of the game can be a challenge for representatives of reformist forces.
During the show, Olha Bohomolets manages to use the methods of Yuliya Tymoshenko who is probably close to her psychological type:
- She appeals to the emotional perception of the audience;
- She ignores inconvenient questions and shows a tendency to change the subject;
- There is a lack of concrete facts in her speech, but there are statements on the presence of detailed plans and strategies;
- There is an emphasis on exclusivity of her own abilities and capabilities.
Olga Bohomolec visited both Schuster, and Kulykov. At ICTV, the host Andriy Kulykov tried to figure out the realism behind the politician’s statements. But there, we can also see a tendency of unwillingness to pressure the politicians to help the viewers distinguish the reality from demagoguery. We are talking not about the subjective doubts of the host, but the style and structure of the show, which do not give the audience the possibility to perceive the information fully.
More than three-hour broadcast of Shuster Live on November 14 was divided into three parts. In the first one, the former Georgian President Mykhayil Saakashvili and two former officials from his team described the experience of successful Georgian reforms.
In the second part, Yuriy Lutsenko from “Petro Poroshenko’s Block” was talking about his perspective on the events in the country and the parliament. His attempt to resort to lengthy and not without the traditional politicians’ logic explanation immediately lowered the level of trust toward his statements to less than 30 percent. Despite the conventional rating, the fact that society is not ready to rely on the words and expects the real actions was shown very clearly.
The same trend was confirmed in the final part of the program, during which the Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk quite convincingly, in his characteristic manner of somewhat mentoring, explained the content of the government policy, gaining a fairly high level of confidence.
But the question of economic expert Borys Kushniruk about the lack of real progress in the reform policies received an unexpectedly high support, while obviously angry response of the Prime Minister significantly lost a lot of his support.
Thus, under the new conditions, there is a powerful query of the audience for experts, journalists and hosts to ask the guests the questions that truly trouble the entire society.
The format of multifigured "compositions" in the studio, when politicians communicated at a level of political blanks, producing only "information noise" is gradually disappearing.
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.