Archive for October, 2018


I’m here in Kyiv training journalists and programme-makers at UA:First, Ukraine’s relatively new public service broadcaster. The vast network of radio and television stations and channels used to be the state broadcaster, and is slowly being transformed thanks to a project funded by the European Union https://www.coe.int/en/web/kyiv/strengthening-freedom-of-media-and-establishing-a-public-broadcasting-system-in-ukraine .

Like all huge organisations, UA:First is finding such major change a challenge. One of the problems is a lack of awareness in Ukraine of the existance of the public service broadcaster. It was offically re-classified in 2015, but according to a survey carried out that year under the  EU/Council of Europe Joint Programme,  only 34% of the adult population had heard anything about the broadcaster’s launch  In addition, the survey found that only 16 % had seen any advertisement or promotional material about the public broadcaster.

The media landscape in Ukraine is dominated by commercial television channels, many of which are owned by powerful interests in the country. Since the 2014 revolution, the Ukrainian government has adopted a number of reforms, including laws on transparency of media ownership and access to information held by the state. But the organisation Reporters Without Borders says there are still a number of concerns.

“Physical attacks on the media, including journalist Pavel Sheremet’s murder in 2016, continue to go unpunished and concern is growing in the run-up to the 2019 elections. The separatist-controlled areas in the east are still no-go areas without critical journalists or foreign observers”.

In addition, the ongoing conflict with Russia also has an impact on the media. There is an information war with Russia, which means Russian media and Russian social networks are banned in Ukraine and foreign journalists black-listed.

But for the most part, I have been delighted by the standard of the programme-makers I am working with. Compared to the participants I was training in Russia 15 years ago, they have a good awareness of the principles of balance and objectivity, and enhanced skills in programme making and presentation.

 

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I’ve been riding the Metro here to get to the training location, which is around a half hour’s drive away from the hotel. In some ways it’s the same as any rushhour travel on public transport – hot, crowded, claustophobic. But the beauty of the Kyiv subway makes it worthwhile.

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I was surprised to read that the network was built in the 70s, 80s and 90s. To me, the marble lined stations, brass advertisement boards and elegrant chandeliers have art deco echoes.

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The two lines I travel on are among the deepest subway lines in Europe. They also include some of the city’s main stations – and as such, as are even more decorative. At Kreshchatyk station, these decorative tiles grace the platforms.

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While Voksalna station is lined with these huge brass plaques, which depict scenes from the past, in a truly Soviet style.

Kyiv is in a debate with itself about decommunising the city. There are discussions about removing statues and buildings associated with the Soviet union – and consequently the statue of Lenin in the city centre has long gone. Ukraine removed all statues of Lenin in 2017, and now street name changes are being considered. But could that de-communisation mean changes to the Metro? I hope not.

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