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"This absurd situation has gone on for too long:" RSF on the shutdown of Espreso, Priamyi, and Channel 5

03.04.2023, 17:50
Edit by Priamyi
Edit by Priamyi

The international human rights organization "Reporters Without Borders" calls on the Ukrainian authorities to resolve the situation with the shutdown of "Espreso", "Priamyi" and Channel 5 as soon as possible.

This is said in the statement issued by the organization dated April 3.

The RSF remind that these three TV channels were "mysteriously disconnected from Ukraine’s DVB-T2 network exactly a year ago, shortly after a decree requiring all of the national TV news channels to cooperate."

"A year later, it is still impossible to say who took this decision, why it was taken, and who implemented it. The media regulator, the DVB supplier and the state-owned company that owns the infrastructure all blame each other. A legal fog has prevailed for the past year," the statement reads.

The organization notes that the lawsuits filed by Priamyi and Channel 5 in May 2022 have stalled. The RSF says that although the Ukrainian parliament adopted a resolution in favour of press freedom in April 2022, it was only the following month that the parliamentary committee responsible for the news media examined the problem of these three channels, and it failed to come up with any solution.

"This absurd situation has gone on for too long," said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. "It is incredible that Ukraine’s 16 million DVB viewers have been denied access to the three opposition TV channels in a legal confusion that has endured for a year. We fail to understand the lack of political will to solve this problem, and we urge the Ukrainian authorities to sort things out as quickly as possible."

Furthermore, the RSF recalls that two weeks before the three opposition channels were disconnected, Ukraine’s National Security Council issued a decree on 18 March requiring the national TV news channels to work together to feed what it called the “National Information Marathon.” After the decree was issued, Espreso, Channel 5 and Priamyi expressed their desire to contribute to the “National Marathon.” Representatives at each of the channels told RSF they began discussions with the other channels but they were not conclusive. Then, on 4 April 2022, the signals of these three channels were suddenly dropped from Ukraine’s DVB-T2 network without any warning and without any official decision by the media regulator, which would have been expected to supervise the process in the absence of any other legal basis.

“The real question is why these three channels were not allowed to participate in the Marathon despite the decree,” said Roman Holovenko, the jurist at the Institute of Mass Information (IMI), RSF’s Ukrainian partner. “The problem is that we have no legal basis regulating cooperation between the channels themselves.”

Not involved in the production of the joint telethon, deprived of an opportunity to broadcast on the CNT network, these three TV channels are currently limited to satellite television and streaming – with no prospect of a quick resolution. Yet, they are still being invoiced by Zeonbud, the company that operates Ukraine’s DVB-T2 network, the RSF note.

As IMI reported, on April 4, 2022, Espreso, Priamyi, and Channel 5 announced that on April 4 in the morning the Broadcasting, Radiocommunications, and Television Concern (BRTC) had shut down the broadcasting of these TV channels in T2 digital network.

Digital television provider Zeonbud, which is currently subject to the governmental BRT Concern, is not aware of the reasons for Espreso, Priamyi, and Channel 5 being shut down.

On May 9, 2022, the State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine explained that the reason for shutting off the digital broadcasting of Espreso, Priamyi, and Channel 5 was an implementation of the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine regarding the broadcast of a joint telethon.

The adviser to the head of the President's Office Mykhailo Podolyak believes that the channels from the so-called Petro Poroshenko's pool (Channel 5, Priamyi, and "Espreso") were excluded from digital air because they were harmful due to the ex-president's "narcissism."

Channel 5 and Priamyy filed a lawsuit against the Broadcasting, Radiocommunications and Television Concern (BRTC) and the State Special Communications Service for being excluded from digital broadcasting.

In July 2022, Priamy and Channel 5 called on the Council of National Security and Defense and the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting to allocate the time slot in the joint telethon "United News" which will be vacant if the participation of "Ukraina" media group is terminated to them.

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