Detector Media Reports on National TV Channel Coverage of the Pandora Papers
October 5 – Detector Media published an assessment of how most popular TV channels covered the broadcast of Slidstvo.Info’s investigative film “Offshore 95,” about connections between President Volodymyr Zelenskyi and businesses operating through offshore companies. Slidstvo.Info revealed documents that show Zelenskyi had undisclosed shares in an offshore company that he secretly transferred to his friend several weeks before winning the 2019 presidential election. The document leak is part of the 11.9 million files within the Pandora Papers, consisting of everything from emails to bank statements, incorporation documents, and shareholder registries from 14 firms that provide offshore services. The files were leaked by a confidential source to the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Thirty-five current or former world leaders and more than 300 other public officials around the globe who have held assets in or through tax havens are named in the Papers.
Major takeaways of the DM monitoring report include:
- The ICTV and STB TV channels, which to oligarch Viktor Pinchuk’s StarLightMedia, did not mention Slidstvo.Info’s investigation in their evening news programs in early October. In their comments to Detector Media, the heads of both channels’ news deaprtments said they did not cover the issue “due to absence of an opposing point of view,” and “more interesting topics were covered instead.”
- The Ukraina TV channel, owned by oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, focused on the international dimension of the investigation. When mentioning Zelenskyi’s role, instead of reporting the essence of the story, the channel’s journalists provided only the defensive comments of General Prosecutor Iryna Venedictova and adviser to the President’s Office Mykhailo Podoliak. “As both Venediktova and Podoliak’s comments were provided out of context, with no information about the actual Zelenskyi story, viewers were not able to understand that the comments were manipulative in reality,” Detector Media wrote.
- The Inter TV channel, owned by oligarch Dmytro Firtash and Serhiy Liovochkin (the former head of Yanukovych’s presidential administration) mentioned the authors of the investigation (Slidstvo.Info) very briefly, but the coverage was not clear.
- 1+1 TV channel, owned by oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi (who is featured in Pandora Papers) covered the investigation by just mentioning Kolomoyskyi as one of many oligarchs named in the Papers. Journalists did not cover the particular role of Kolomoyskyi in the Pandora Papers investigation and provided defensive comments by Mykhailo Podoliak, who said that “during Yanukovych’s times everyone had to [use offshore companies] to protect their businesses.”
- The First Independent TV channel, owned by pro-Russian politician Victor Medvedchuk, covered the investigation briefly, ignoring the details but focusing on the accusations against Zelenskyi.
- Channel 5, owned by former President Petro Poroshenko, focused on the results of the investigation, making it the main news topic while not mentioning the results of a similar investigation by Slidstvo.Info in 2016 that uncovered the offshore businesses of then-President Poroshenko.
- UA:PBC covered the story in detail and mentioned the Slidstvo.Info investigation of Poroshenko in 2016. UA:PBC’s UA:Pershyi was the only TV channel of those monitored that reached out to those named in the Papers for comment. According to Detector Media experts Zoya Krasovska and Otar Dovzhenko, “UA:PBC coverage of the story proved the TV channel did not follow any instructions from the Office of the President.”
More on Detector Media in Ukrainian.
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