Public programming or programming the public – Ukraine

April 9, 2017

Monday 10th April will be an important date insofar as public broadcasting in Ukraine is concerned (if agendas remain the same).

It is the date that the new head of the national public broadcaster will be chosen, somebody who will necessarily hold significant sway as Chair of the Supervisory Board that will oversee national public broadcasting on television and radio.

Further, as part of the selection criteria, applicants have been required to submit a development strategy for public broadcasting (within the parameters of relevant existing legislation).  Ergo the successful candidate will have a real impact on what comes next and how.

While there has been a noticeable improvement in the public broadcaster since 2014, it is still a long way from being what many expect of an independent national broadcaster – this in a media landscape dominated by broadcasters owned by politicians and oligarchs whose outlets frame matters around their owner’s interests, and that can (appear) be selective in the issues that they cover (which is the entire point of owning them).

Unsurprisingly Ukraine has, for decades, under successive governments promised a truly independent broadcaster and has consistently failed to deliver one that would upset and/or challenge certain narratives of those that control the currently captured national and local media/broadcasting sector.

It has to be said that the list of applicants is absent any exciting names that would fill an onlooker with Utopian idealism.  Nevertheless the applicants might be broadly separated into two categories.  The first being political creatures with broadcasting experience, and the other being broadcasting professionals tainted (perhaps understandably) to varying degrees by historical political “understandings”.

To be blunt, the names of the 8 candidates are not as important as it is to which of the two (perceived) categories above the successful candidate is from – for that will send a message regarding the degree of independence the national independent broadcaster will have, the existing level integrity it will try maintain (or not), or indeed actively and energetically seek to increase.


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