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Mass media and Zelensky: several questions, but no clear answers

19.04.2019, 16:51
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“A part of Zelensky’s interview in “RBK-Ukraine” made me wonder a lot. Let me cite him: “mass media have to be to the maximum free. …I would dream the press to be economically, commercially independent. In order one could not pay for it, neither articles, nor editions and programs on TV. We think about it. We and guys, we are thinking about the bill to make the television free. In order, the television could find not only money received from the market. The market we have is feeble yet, there is no advertisement market. I would like to seek to the maximum for some Western investments to invest it in the press freedom”. As a media expert, I am curious what does it mean, his phrase “we and guys, we think over the bill to make the television independent”? If it is question of the television free from oligarchs and jeansa, we are all in favour of it. Since several years the civil society was working on it and made ready the bill “On audiovisual services”. To made adopt this bill, this is one of priorities of the “Reanimation package of reforms” and it is stipulated within the Association agreement between Ukraine and the EU. It will mean establishing more of transparency, precision and liability on TV and radio. We will be glad if Volodymyr Zelensky meant deoligarchization of the media domain and installing the European standards of independency, transparency and liability. At this very moment, no one from the team of Zelensky contacted the community of media experts as to working out of any media projects of law. At the same time, looking through the backstory of relationship of the contender Volodymyr Zelensky and the TV channel “1+1” gave evidences that he was happy to have recourse for several times to the television resource. And this was not simply that he had recourse, he has fully evident support of the owner of this TV channel, oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky. On April 17th, the National councilreferred to the Central election commission the reports on several breaches, since Zelensky had 14% of total broadcasting time of “1+1” for last three months. The media group “1+1” denied this report. Interviewed by “RBC-Ukraine” the contender Volodymyr Zelensky told they nearly “had not recourse to television” in the election campaign. At the same time, we are aware of how much of advertisement product involving Zelensky was aired during election campaign on “1+1”, even the day of silence…Moreover, on the eve of the first round they came out with the third sequel of “Servant of people”, which has the identical title as Zelensky’s party, which literraly was quoting several messages from his election program and so on. His interview to the agency RBK makes us suppose in case of the victory Zelensky would be going to communicate to Ukrainians in the same manner he did during his election campaign. That’s to say by means of videos and some very few interviews to some elected journalists. This is logical to assume, the priority is not communication to journalists, but the videos that one will have to place somewhere. Social networkd could not be the main option, because, according to different sources, up to 60% of Ukrainians use it and not systematically. The key channel of communication remains television and this confirmed by sociological surveys. And if we develop “independent television”, so the television would like to ask directly its questions to the President of Ukraine, including critical. And not to keep silent and to place promotional videos. So it is not clear enough for me in what manner Zelensky is going to find balance in his media policy. And what it will be exactly: freedom from oligarchs, open communication to the press or freedom from being under the law to the benefit of these oligarchs? We have no answer for now. This interview does not make it totally clear in what manner Zelensky is going to upbuild his communications to the mass media and the journalists. The journalists community was waiting for the press conference of Poroshenko for one 18 months. What it will be now? Zelensky failed to give any precise answer to it. He cited as an example of communication the briefing meeting in his HQ after the first round, which, as let me remind you, lasted around 5 minutes. Whether they are going to hold press conferences in general or whether we start “new format of communication”? We will see it. This is clear he is not going to come out to speak to journalists. “The rare appearances that bring people in contact, unite them”, Zelensky said in his interview. I am completely agree with it. His rare appearances in the mass media have already gathered the media community, which had even prepared a common open letter asking him to hold a press conference. For now, obviously, we have to be ready to face indefiniteness. And professional journalists, probably, have to be ready to take part in competitions, flashmobs, tennis tournaments with an interview with Zelensky at stake, promotional videos. By Oksana Romanyuk, executive director of the Institute of mass Information, especially for Detektor Media
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