Back In the USSR, by Choice

Ukrainian Court Backpedals On Broadcast Rights

KIEV, Ukraine — A Kiev Appeals Court on Monday decided to cut additional broadcasting for two independent television channels bringing onslaught of fresh criticism against the government for it’s continued restriction of press freedom in Ukraine.

Protesters, mainly journalists and artist, gather in front of a court in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, to protest against media censorship.

The court announced that the two channels, Channel 5 and TBi, will have their broadcast frequencies cancelled.

The decision comes after a lengthy legal process, which has been accompanied by domestic and international criticism against Ukrainian officials for curtailing media around the country.

In January, The National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine (NTRBC) offered a tender to provide national TV channels with additional broadcasting frequencies.

Channels 5 and TBi won the tender ahead of the pro-government Inter Media Group—a large broadcasting company, which includes several national television channels.

The Inter Media Group claimed the decision was illegal and brought the issue to court, which ruled in June that the tender’s procedure had violations.

Channel 5 has accused National Security chief, Valeriy Khoroshkovksy, former owner of the Inter Media Group, of influencing the decision to cancel its broadcasting.

Khoroshkovksy, whose wife is the owner of the Inter Media Group, has denied the allegations.

Other media and rights groups, including The International Press Institute (IPI), have expressed concern about today’s ruling which will force the NTRBC to offer a new tender with more TV channels participating.

Channel 5 said that it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, and if that did not work, it would go to the European Court for final appeals.

“Actuality, the court hearing looked pretty unclear and the advocates made mistakes. It seemed to me that the court had had a certain decision beforehand,” Kiev Press Institute quoted the editor-in-chief of Channel 5 Vladimir Mjelskiy as saying.

Roman Golovenko, a media expert with Kiev Press Institute said that the Broadcasting Council had a history of bad decision-making process which was criticized a lot before.

“Generally, the court proceedings have put in question the legitimacy of the council’s activities not only over the controversial tender, but of many other issues,” the organization reported.

International human rights organizations say that press freedom has declined sharply in Ukraine, since pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych assumed power earlier this year.

After Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had met journalists and officials in July, it concluded that “it became more and more problematic in Ukraine to be an independent journalist.”

Source: The Epoch Times

Merkel Tackles Ukrainian President On Media Rights

BERLIN, Germany — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday she held “very open” talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich about press freedom following criticism from journalists and international watchdogs.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
“I made clear that with regard to certain democratic areas, in particular in the area of press freedom and the freedom of opinion, we had certain questions,” Merkel said after talks with Yanukovich in Berlin.

“We discussed these questions very openly with one another. We also agreed that should there be any such problems in the future that we would be able to discuss them openly and honestly,” she told reporters.

Ukrainian journalists have repeatedly warned of deteriorating media rights, saying pressure on reporters has increased since Yanukovich, seen as closer to Moscow than his predecessor Viktor Yushchenko, came to power in February.

On Friday, media rights watchdog Reporters without Borders sent a letter to Merkel asking her to discuss “growing obstacles to freedom of the press” in Ukraine during her meeting with Yanukovich.

The group also called on Merkel to press for a more thorough investigation into the disappearance of journalist Vasyl Klymentyev on August 11.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Anatoly Mogilev said on Thursday that it was likely that Klymentyev, the editor of a small weekly in Ukraine’s northern city of Kharkiv specialising in sensational corruption exposes, had been murdered.

More than 100 Ukrainian journalists and artists took to the streets of Kiev on Thursday in a protest against censorship.

Private channels TVi and Channel 5 are currently at loggerheads over broadcast frequencies with one of the main national networks, Inter TV Channel.

Inter TV’s owner, Valery Khoroshkovsky, is one of the country’s richest businessmen and also head of the SBU, Ukraine’s main government security agency.

The newspaper reported that the head of TVi had been spied on by intelligence services, something which Yanukovich has denied.

Source: German Expatica

posted by Nicholas @ 3:02 PM