Ukraine Government and Media
Government Type: Parliamentary-presidential system
Head of State: The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy (May 20, 2019, was sworn-in as the President of Ukraine)
Head of Government: Prime Minister of Ukraine Shmyhal Denys
Political Party: Servant of the People (Big Tent Party-Populist-Pro-Europeanism)
Political Position: Independent
World Press Freedom Rank: Ukraine 96 /180
According to Reporters without Borders, although there were reforms regarding media ownership transparency and an overall ranking of Ukraine’s freedom index improved compared to last year’s ranking (102 in 2019). The report indicates “Much more is needed to loosen the oligarchs’ tight grip on the media, encourage editorial independence and combat impunity for crimes of violence against journalists.”
Government Influence on Media: In Ukraine, most of the press and the broadcasting sector is either directly state-owned or privately owned by corporations. When it comes to transparency, particularly pertaining to media, oligarchs control the media ownership. For example, businessman Valery Khoroshkovsky served under different presidents as head of the Security Service, Deputy Prime Minister, and Finance Minister, and during his time in office, he held over 60 percent of Ukraine’s top TV channel (Inter Media Group) and other commercial stations. In 2013, he sold the Inter Media Group to another Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtas. For more on Inter Media Group see here. Another example is Businessman Igor Kolomoisky who owns 1+1 Media Group which is currently the largest media conglomerate in Ukraine. 1+1 Media Group includes numerous Ukrainian TV channels as well as online news platforms. He was also one of the owners of PrivatBank before it was nationalized due to fraud. He is also involved in banking, retail, energy, metallurgy, and aviation. Businessman Igor Kolomoisky is known to have ties with former Comedian and current President Zelensky. These oligarchs’ businesses are not just limited to media as they also own businesses in other industries as well.
The National Сouncil of Television and Radio Broadcasting is responsible for licensing media outlets. Its members are appointed by the President and the Parliament. In Ukraine, TV dominates media, with Inter TV and 1+1 being the most influential and popular TV networks. Print media is mostly privately owned, such as Segodnya Multimedia Publishing Group owned by System Capital Management or SCM which is owned by businessman Rinat Akhmetov. Printed media in general is published in Russian. In May 2021 new legislation will be in effect which requires “TV and film distribution firms to ensure 90 percent of their content is in Ukrainian and for the proportion of Ukrainian-language printed media and books to be at least 50 percent.”
In summary, despite the implementation of reforms, the media landscape is closely associated with powerful Oligarchs that are actively involved in politics. Although online media is gaining popularity, TV is still the main source of information in Ukraine and most of the TV networks are owned directly or indirectly by these powerful business Oligarchs. They use media to promote the politicians they support, and in return, politicians favor them with their other business investments. The fact that communication is dominated by a media owned by the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country significantly limits political pluralism and the chances for lesser-known politicians to be heard.
|Top 5 Ukraine Media Sources by Web Rank|