Chatham House Calls for Further International Support to Promote Media Reforms and Develop Independent Media in Ukraine
May 5 – Detector Media published a summary of the Chatham House report “Strengthening Public Interest in Ukraine’s Media Sector,” in which Anna Korbut, former “Ukrainskyi Tyzhden” (Ukrainian Week) reporter and contributor to New Eastern Europe, Carnegie Europe, and other Ukrainian and foreign outlets, examined the current media landscape in Ukraine.
Korbut explored the main challenges and potential for improvement facing the media, including professional standards, media literacy and public trust. Her main conclusion was that international assistance and regulatory oversight are essential for improving transparency and resilience in Ukraine’s media sector, but equally important is infrastructure support for quality journalism and media literacy efforts.
The key takeaways were:
- The main factors that shaped Ukraine’s media landscape were a weak and oligarchic economy and the influence of political elites and Russia. Western companies have made very few investments in Ukrainian media companies (and are reluctant to do so in the near future), unlike in Central European media markets;
- The main challenge facing Ukraine’s media is the danger of funding from Russia, which comes attached with conditions that go against professional standards and turn media into instruments of propaganda and information warfare;
- In contrast to oligarchic media, independent media companies are forced to struggle for survival in an unhealthy economic environment. In 2020, oligarchic media groups received 95% of advertising revenue in the television market. Subsidies and advertising revenues allow oligarchic media to invest in content with high-quality production values, making them popular with viewers;
- International support and regulatory oversight are necessary prerequisites for increasing the transparency and resilience of Ukrainian media. Independent media, which lack the resources to compete with oligarchic media and promote journalistic standards as values, should be supported;
- Reform of UA:PBC is a positive example of what can be achieved in this area. International assistance to independent media can be provided with funding and expertise in the form of international professional discussions, to help journalists master modern tools for content production and work with audiences; and
- More efforts are needed to increase the audience’s media literacy level and citizens’ demand for quality content in the long-term perspective. Ukraine needs a broad media education campaign that covers all age and social groups and includes both traditional media and social networks. So far, civil society groups involved in media literacy activities lack the resources to organize such a wide campaign.
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