Detector Media Asks “Whom Does the Public Broadcaster Disturb?”
October 5 – In her article “Whom Does the Public Broadcaster Disturb?,” Detector Media director Halyna Petrenko summarized the recent trials and tribulations of UA:PBC, Ukraine’s public service broadcaster. Petrenko pondered the question of why there are people in government who complain about the TV channel’s low ratings while positioning themselves to have the government take control of the broadcaster.
Petrenko described a recent scandal that erupted after UA:PBC launched the first episode of its new social talk show called “In a Human Way,” a program that focuses on resolving complicated social issues. The series was outsourced to external production company Ivory Films through an open competition. After the first broadcast, UA:PBC management received a letter from Veronika Kryzhna claiming she owned the copyright for the title and show concept and ordering UA:PBC to halt the “In a Human Way” broadcasts. The UA:PBC supervisory board discovered that Kryzhna is co-owner of a film production business with Artem Kolyubayev (head of the Council for Ukraine’s State Support of Film Production), and Andriy Yermak (chief of staff of the Office of the President). Kryzhna is a hairdresser who registered her film production company after June 2021, and she registered the copyright for the title and the concept of “In a Human Way” on August 13, three days after the title was approved by the UA:PBC working group in an internal meeting. StarLightMedia and 1+1 competed for the UA:PBC series but lost to Ivory Films.
Petrenko wrote that many representatives of the commercial media market and the current authorities publicly stress the low ratings of UA:Pershyi TV to devalue the entire UA:PBC corporation. She says this is unfair, as Ukrainian Radio, which is part of UA:PBC, and UA:PBC’s digital platform, for example, have been successful in attracting large audiences.
According to Petrenko, UA:PBC is on the verge of seeing important changes with the new draft law #2576 On Increasing Effectiveness of UA:PBC (registered in Parliament in December 2019 and included on the parliamentary agenda in September 2021). The bill contains provisions requiring UA:PBC to outsource content production to commercial studios. Since many current public officials are connected with leading media holdings, which in turn belong to oligarchs, there is a risk that the government is inserting mechanisms to control the public broadcaster. By obliging UA:PBC to allocate its funds to outsourcing content production to commercial studios, officials connected to those studios would begin to gain control of the public service broadcaster, Petrenko wrote. She expressed her hope that this will not happen once the law is passed, as the supervisory and management boards of UA:PBC are running the broadcaster in a professional manner.
More on Detector Media in Ukrainian.