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Financial transparency of Ukraine online media nearly inexistent - IMI research

22.09.2020, 12:16

Only two of the 50 surveyed by IMI online media outlets made public financial reports on their websites. This is 4% of all editions in question. Another mass media made it public partly.  

For the first time, the "Institute of Mass Information" NGO examined financial transparency of the most popular online news media. 

Hromadske.TV and Ukrinform turned out to be two "braves" . Hromadske.TV published its financial reports on flow of funds (and indicated its sources) and on expenses, as well as auditors' reports - two documents each for 2013–2019. Ukrinform news agency published reports on the financial standing of the news agency (assets / liabilities), appendices to annual procurement plans, reports on total income, equity and cash flows since 2018. In general, the published reporting of Ukrinform turned out to be the most detailed one, while the reporting of Hromadske.TV covered a clearly longer period of time. 

BBC Ukrainian Service did not place financial reports on its own website. Although this site has a link to the page of the BBC parent company, which, among other things, made public its financial reports. This information is provided in English, which makes it inaccessible to a large part of the Ukrainian audience. Financial data regarding its Ukrainian desk have not been separated. For these reasons, we evaluated this media outlet by a half the point in terms of financial transparency. 

The KP in Ukraine seems to have tried to disclose its financial reports, but failed due to some technical reasons, so we cannot score it.  

The remaining 94% of the online editions in question remained in a completely financially opacity. Although many companies in the world are used to publish their financial figures in an attempt to attract investment, the vast majority of Ukraine mass media do not disclose their sources of income. This affords grounds to suppose that many of them have some disguised (illegal) advertising as source of funding or subsidies from some owners, big or minor oligarchs, who in exchange for funding may require a certain editorial policy to follow: to promote their brand or political forces and politicians whom he supports, smear campaign targeting his rivals and their creatures in politics.

The media landscape under control of oligarchs does not leave sufficiently income for independent mass media from the advertising market, which is already declining due to the switching of advertisement to the social networks.

By Roman Holovenko, media lawyer with IMI

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