A decisive shift in the fate of public broadcasting in Ukraine is unfolding. On April 10th, 2017 there's going to be an election of a new head for the “National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine” (UA:PBC). The fate of the country's key reform depends on it with the Ukrainian society still having limited access to independent and balanced journalism. A day before the voting the statement was released by civil and media activists who are concerned about the upcoming elections for the new head of Ukrainian Public Broadcasting Company because representatives of some political parties could influence the result.
The reform of public broadcasting is a crucial step in the development of democracy and transparency in Ukraine. Most of the media market is controlled by oligarchs and politicians, who use media as instruments to influence and pursue their own agenda. Civil society has been striving for this reform for more than for 20 years - transforming state TV and radio into a transparent and independent public broadcaster. Even though the law on "Public Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine” was adopted in 2014, actual change has been too slow. This is a critical time for UA:PBC – its independence will greatly depend on the person selected to head it, and who will have to restrain political pressure and transform this huge Soviet institution to progressive modern TV.
In February, the Supervisory Board, which consists of public members and representatives of the deputy factions, announced a contest for the head of UA:PBC. After the resignation of the former CEO, Zurab Alasania, the Broadcasting Company has a temporary head. In a bid to secure the job, each candidate had to present a development strategy for the public broadcaster, based on the law on "Public Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine”, which will be implemented into the mission of public broadcaster.
“A lot will depend on the person who ends up chairing the organization. If the Supervisory Board chooses to vote in favor of a professional, rather than a political figure, then I will be very hopeful. Although, if a professional does become head of the new public broadcasting company, then this person will have to contend with a lot of opposition from within, and especially from outside, because politicians do not want to lose control over the system of TV and Radio broadcast,” commented the head of the Commission For Journalism Ethics in Ukraine and Chairman of NGO “Hromadske Radio”, Andriy Kulykov, speaking to Hromadske.
The official duties of the CEO of the Ukrainian PBC include: the management and implementation of development strategies, the development the concept of public broadcast work, and the de-facto implementation of public broadcasting reform.
The building of UA:PBC, Kyiv, Ukraine.
ZURAB ALASANIA, 52 YEARS OLD
He was the chairman of a Kharkiv regional state TV company for 5 years. He is also the former Head of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (2014-2016). He said that the reason behind his resignation was the catastrophic situation regarding financing. At the end of 2016, he announced his intention to become a head of UA:PBC once again.
“This desire to finish what you have started is natural, as is the case for me. My strategy is to build public broadcasting. There can be thousands of strategies, but really there should be just one - forming public broadcasting, something which is absent in Ukraine,” he said.
OLEH NALYVAIKO, 56 YEARS OLD
Head of the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine. At the beginning of 90s he was the head of the Ministry of Economy press-service. Nalyvaiko is the former president of one of the major Ukrainian information agencies - UNIAN.
According to him, one of his priorities is to “audit the work and shape a plan for optimizing existing funds and the exploitation of costs spent for their support. Most of them are not even needed for maintaining public broadcast work, but still, it exists and is dragging the company down like a heavy weight”.
ROMAN VYBRANOVSKYY, 39 YEARS OLD
He has worked as a journalist since 2002 at ‘Hromadske Radio’, and at the biggest Ukrainian TV channels, ‘5 channel’ and “1+1’. He was a director for a public programmes production at the National TV Company of Ukraine. During the Maidan events, he organized a project to translate foreign press, presenting the the world’s reaction to the Ukrainian audience.
“Our logic is different from the logic of state TV in a very simple way: state television has a certain amount of people who do something. It’s inadmissible in the modern world. We need to change the logic itself. Being a good person isn’t a profession, being a patriot isn’t either… Everything depends on the quality of a produced product and the service people get.” says Roman.
YURIY DARAHAN, 56 YEARS OLD
He started to work as a freelance correspondent for the state channel UT-1 (now UA:PBC). Yuriy Darahan is the head of Sumy regional TV and radio company “Vidikon”.
In his strategy he plans to increase focus on the regional departments of UA:PBC.
OLEKSANDR KOVALENKO, 33 YEARS OLD
Head of the Electric Substations at the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine. Earlier he worked as power engineer and machinist.
“I am running for this position to implement my plans. Firstly, I will suggest qualitative content. First - quality and content, then - technical and technological upgrading in favor of modern systems. As I estimate, this is possible to do within 5 years,” Oleksandr assumes.
OLEKSANDR ZORKA, 61 YEARS OLD
He chaired a department for social and political programs back in late 90s. In 2001-2015 he was a vice-president of National TV Company of Ukraine, the Head of programs department, he ran a specialized juridical TV channel “PravoTV” and worked for a local newspaper “Evening Kyiv”.
The strategy of Oleksandr has the subtitle “Subjective Notes”; it doesn’t talk about the management structure or financing management, but concentrates on general rules of work and the philosophy of management.
OLEKSANDR ZYRIN, 57 YEARS OLD
He worked for the Ukrainian National TV Company as a producer and director of the “Evening News” and “Evening Herald”. Later he collaborated as an author on well-known Ukrainian publications - “Day”, “Mirror Weekly”, “Evening Kyiv”, “Telekrytyka” (TV Critics) and others.
“My aim is to hand the national TV back to its place in the system of TV and radio broadcasting in Ukraine. The programme I propose is called “production and re-equipment”, says Oleksandr. He also adds he was working on this program during 2001-2005.
MAREK SIERANT, 40 YEARS OLD
Marek is a Polish journalist, who worked for Polish TV “Polsat”, as a news producer at Ukrainian “Espreso TV”, and as the main news producer at 3S.tv (a channel of Savik Shuster, famous TV-host for political talk shows). He has lived in Ukraine for the last 3 years and covers events here for Polish media.
“I am running for this position because I want to see public broadcasting in Ukraine. It’s absent here, even though Ukraine has large resources for it. I am someone from a business background, and I created a successful TV channel in Poland. I am the person who is not connected to any political forces or oligarchs. This is a guarantee of what I can do, and a guarantee that we can create a quality and professional public broadcaster, like in Western Europe,” he said.
Even though the state channel has changed for good since April 2014, there are still many problems that don’t allow for the implementation of reforms. Most of such difficulties are connected to the findings of what the state allocates to reform as well as political barriers.
"I think it takes so long because it's the first time we've tried to do this in earnest. There's quite a lot of journalists and public activists who are strongly in favor of creating a public broadcaster. As far as politicians and state officials are concerned, I think they have never been in favor and they will never be, because it takes away a very powerful means of influencing the public from them," said Andriy Kulykov.
Andriy Kulukov, the head of the Commission For Journalism Ethics in Ukraine and Chairman of NGO “Hromadske Radio”
After the resignation of the former CEO Zurab Alasania, who ran the UA:PBC for two years, and who is now one of the 8 candidates for the position, Hanna Buchok became the interim head of the company. Before that, she was a deputy director general of the National TV and Radio Company of Ukraine (what was UA:PBC, before it was re-registered). She was appointed by Oleg Nalyvaichenko, the head of the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting in Ukraine, and who is also participating in the contest for the position.
The law on "Public Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine” was adopted in 2014. According to this law, 28 regional state broadcasters, the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Company, and the “Culture” TV channel will make up the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine and 100% of its shares will belong to the state.
/by Liuda Kornievych