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Ministry Official Says Euronews Ukraine Could be Source of Russian Propaganda if Licensed to Broadcast

May 18 – Lyubov Tsybulska, head of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security, told those attending the online presentation “Disinformation Landscape in the Eastern and Southern Ukraine: Common Narratives and Sources” that media manager Valid Arfush’s efforts to obtain a license for Euronews Ukraine is an attempt to increase pro-Russian propaganda in Ukraine. “In its current form, Euronews broadcasts pro-Russian narratives about a “civil war” in Ukraine, among others,” Tsybulska said. “There has been an attempt to obtain a license, but fortunately, the National Council didn’t allow this to happen. While seeking the license, Russian propagandists are looking for ways to gain greater access to Ukrainian audiences.”

On May 13, the National Council postponed consideration of a license for satellite broadcasting to SN MEDIA LLC to create a Ukrainian version of the Euronews channel. The ultimate owner of this LLC is media manager and producer Valid Arfush. Since the end of 2019, Arfush has been serving as the Vice President for Regional Development responsible for the promotion of Euronews in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. National Council head Olha Herasimyuk noted at the May 13 National Council meeting that she is not ready to vote for this license as she does not have enough information about the creation of the channel and suggested postponing the issue. Most members of the National Council supported the postponement.

The idea of the establishing Euronews Ukraine was initiated by the Ukrainian government in the fall of 2020. Negotiations on the start of a Ukrainian version of Euronews were carried out personally by Oleksandr Tkachenko, the current Minister of Culture and Information Policy. Detector Media was unable to obtain a comment then from the Ministry on the state’s involvement in the creation of a Ukrainian version of Euronews.

In October 2010, then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s government authorized a license agreement between the National Television Company of Ukraine (the state predecessor of UA:PBC) and Euronews to create a Ukrainian version of the channel. On August 24, 2011, the Ukrainian version of Euronews started broadcasts, but differences in the news programs in Ukrainian and English were noticed by media experts. The Ukrainian service of Euronews edited news in favor of the Yanukovych regime.

In 2013, Ukraine stopped paying annual royalties to Euronews from the state budget, and the debt of the National Television Company of Ukraine to Euronews began to accumulate, exceeding10.5 million euros by 2014.

In late 2014, a new Ukrainian government and new management of the National Television Company of Ukraine intended to terminate the agreement with Euronews due to lack of funds. In 2015, Euronews filed a lawsuit with the National Television Company of Ukraine to recover the 10.5 million euros of debt. After a lengthy litigation, Euronews won the dispute, and UA:PBC, the public service broadcaster that replaced the state broadcaster, was forced to pay the debt.
In February 2020, UA:PBC’s bank accounts were frozen by the Ministry of Finance due to the unpaid debt. UA:PBC paid the debt in the summer of 2020.

More on Detector Media in Ukrainian.

Photo credit: Euronews/Nataliia Liubchenkova