News / Europe

    Independent Ukrainian TV Station Struggles to Stay on the Air

    Oksana Lihostova
    Journalists and their supporters in Ukraine are protesting what they say is a government attempt to stifle one of the few remaining independent television stations - ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for late October. The station - known as TVi - has been embroiled in tax and administrative disputes with the government, and has begun to disappear from cable networks.  Journalists accuse President Victor Yanukovych of giving the order to switch TVi off -- state officials deny involvement. 

    Ivan Artemenko is disappointed: The Kyiv student’s favorite channel  - TVi - has vanished from the airwaves. “I switched on my TV -- there is darkness on a channel TVi. The note says: 'The channel is not supported,'” he said.

    TVi has been having trouble with the government for some time.  The channel was denied a license for digital transmission.  Its director was charged with tax evasion - though the charges were later dropped. 

    Finally, says general director Mykola Kniazhtsky, TVi simply started disappearing from cable TV networks.

    “More than 80 cable operators switched us off. One of the biggest cable operators Triolan switched us off. Another big cable provider, Volia, which is in fact a monopolist in Kyiv, transferred us from a cheap basic package to the expensive one,” she explained.

    As a result, TVi’s audience has shrunk to a third its former size - threatening the station’s survival - and also hampering Ukraine's political opposition, which uses TVi as a way to communicate with voters.

    TVi's management says the National Council on Television and Radio told cable operators to switch the channel off.  The Council denies the charge.
    And cable providers deny they are bending to political pressure.

    Some say they dropped TVi because of technical reasons, others - because the channel didn’t have high enough ratings.  One company, Volia, says it simply optimized its channel lineup. TVi is accessible. 

    "You can see it for yourself.  Nobody has switched it off," she stated. "But in which package it is available -- this is our personal business decision to make.”

    Independent experts are skeptical about these explanations - especially during an election campaign.  Natalia Ligachova is with the media watchdog group, Telekritika.

    “The main responsibility for the situation with TVi channel lies with the Ukrainian authorities. The authorities themselves must provide a possibility for the only opposition channel in Ukraine to operate without obstacles,” she said.

    A protest last month in support of TVi drew some 1,500 people.  And viewers chipped in to help the station pay its fine when it lost a tax case in court.

    The station's editor-in-chief, Vitalii Portnikov, says Ukrainian journalism is now at the last frontier of freedom of speech.

    “It is important for us that Ukrainian journalists have freedom of expression, so that our viewers are not constrained, like during the Soviet times, to find out the truth only from the Voice of America or Radio Liberty. This is a shame for the independent state, for a democratic state," said Pornikov. "We are here to tell people the truth by ourselves.”

    You May Like

    Water Scarcity Could Push Conflict, Migration by 2050

    Warning comes in a new report from the World Bank titled "High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy"

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora