Two years have passed since the beginning of the occupation of the Donbas by Russia. Still one of the hottest and most acute problems was and is access to Ukrainian media for viewers and readers on the uncontrolled territories. Access to analog broadcast is especially complicated.
In April 2014, «DPR» separatists seized the TV tower in the south-west of Donetsk, and it started emitting «streams» of Russian propaganda. It poisons the consciousness of not only residents of «DPR» «capital», but also half of the region.
Russian TV and propaganda channels may be receives with an ordinary antenna in Kurakhove and Krasnoarmiysk. «My parents live on the liberated territory. «Novorossia» and «Russia-1» are on their TV. There are no Ukrainian channels, not even «Inter» or «1 + 1»» , a woman from Donetsk who has to be anonymous says furiously.
Instruction (for Krasnoarmiysk residents): How to adjust the broadcast of Ukrainian channels
Instruction (for Shyrokyne residents): How to adjust broadcast of Ukrainian channels
Access to Ukrainian media is difficult and restricted in Donetsk too. First of all, this refers to independent Internet publications which threaten the illegal «DPR» organization as they dispose the propaganda lies spread by separatists' TV, radio, and other information resources.
«There is no freedom of speech on the occupied territory; everything connected with Ukraine is suppressed in the best Stalinist traditions. If you say anything good about Ukraine you may be arrested and kept in the basement, or even worse — you may be secretly shot without any trial. The brainwash of occupants' channels is very strong: Ukraine is bad; «DPR» is good. Joseph Goebbels would envy the separatists' propaganda», as it was said by a resident of Donetsk, Denys.
So far, the launching of TV towers located on the perimeter of occupied Donetsk has not improved the situation: the analog signal reaches only the areas along the demarcation line. Remote parts of Donetsk as well as inner areas of «DPR» remain under the influence of separatists' propaganda. «We should focus on analog signal and on the content for the occupied area which would «touch» people and take them out of the militants' information monopoly. At present, there is signal, and, though it is weak, it is possible to watch Ukrainian TV in some towns. However, there should be understanding that each region requires its particular content. And it is necessary to widen the cover», this is what should be done according to Vitaliy Syzov, Editor-in-Chief of «Donbas Public TV».
Picture: Vitaliy Syzov
DPTV as well as the Internet publication of «News of Donbas» are the only media which systematically cover the events on both sides of the demarcation line. The journalists manage to pierce the veil of censorship and propaganda and show the ugly truth about the real situation in «DPR».
Picture: News of Donbas
Our increase in social networks in 2015
40% of «News of Donbas» content are devoted to events on the uncontrolled territory. «We carefully observe the events on the occupied territory and present not only the events, but also their analysis. We do not publish every detail connected with «DPR» activities as their populist claims will not give a lot of benefit to the society. We try to write as much as possible about the life of the people», Yuliya Khovanska, Editor-in-Chief of the «News of Donbas» stresses.
«News of Donbas» was the first editorial office which had to evacuate from Donetsk in April, 2014. They were the leaders among MM which were banned on occupied territories. In the summer, 2014, «DPR» issued a decree which forced Internet-providers to block access to more than 40 national and regional resources.
Phtoto: Planning session of the editorial board
“LPR” went even further: in December 2015 they added a number of MM to the list of those which had already been banned. Their list includes 117 banned sites. “LPR” especially dislikes Ukrainian TV channels – their broadcasting was banned in early 2015. “L-DPR” ministries know very well how powerful the influence of TV is on people’s mentality. It was a TV screensaver that made a fake “Russian spring” a reality.
In this situation the most popular media are those which broadcast their content with the help of popular video hostings. «YouTube has not been been blocked on the occupied territory. One may subscribe to «Donbas Public TV» channel and follow/ see upgrades. One may install special programs to visit our site which is blocked by a lot of providers on the occupied territory as it was demanded by militants», as Vitaliy Syziv recommends.
DPTV editor-in chief added that it is possible to use special equipment for digital TV or an antenna fixed in the direction of Volnovakha (the 55th channel) or Krasnoarmiysk (the 27th channel). «These are the frequences of Donetsk regional TV and radio company («DoTeBe» channel). This is the 22d channel of a digital tuner», Syzov is presenting his tips.
Donetsk residents themselves say that digital tuners, satellite antennas, and, of course, the Internet come to their rescue. They avoid providers' blocking with the help of anonymizers and actively use the Internet. However, access to the Internet on the occupied territory is available to socially active people, young and middle-aged. Senior people are still getting «poisoning» information from TV — cable TV and broadcasting are full of propagandistic MM.
«DPR» demanded to block the site.
How to avoid the blocking of information sites?
“It is impossible to watch TV. We are constantly told how good it is to live in the «republic»., and how horrible it is in Ukraine. And there is no break in it”, Antonina, a woman from Budyenovskiy district complaint. She is 73 and she does not use the Internet; she does not have a satellite TV of a digital tuner. She gets real news from her relatives who have left for the unoccupied territory or from her daughter who surfs the Internet.
When it happens that people manage to receive some Ukrainian broadcast they are happy. The extract from a blog is presented above. It is about a joy experienced by a Donetsk resident when he got the signal of Ukrainian «Radio 24».
«I think the major part of «DPR» population understand what people «rule» the country. They know about lawlessness in their towns. And they are silent. Maybe, they think that it is too late to say anything. However, when we cover the events in occupation, we try to present a different point of view. Those who have dealt with separatists' resources know that something like «crucified» boys or other propagandistic tricks are regularly presented by them. The only way out of the situation is to verify the data, to collect the data and to monitor it», says Yuliya Khovanska, «News of Donbas» editor-in-chief.
She noted that the site of «News of Donbas» has a special section “Events in Occupation”. «It is important to present the residents of the occupied territory not only news, but analytical and investigative information for them to understand where the «L-DPR» grouping leading them. And the prospects are not great, Once a week our site publishes a review of separatist press which focus on obedience to «DPR» and love to Zakharchenko. We show what separatists' newspapers publish», says Khovanska.
We get the content for our publications and «News of Donbas» videos from different sources but always from the places the events take place at. Journalists are helped by volunteers, residents of Donetsk and other towns. They share their observations, their videos and photos with us. We publish the materials on the «News of Donbas» site and the video content on DPTV YouTube and then published in “News of Donbas”.
Photo: The results of the survey of «Donetsk Truth» readers (is published by DII) in January 2016)
The number of visits proves that the alternative view on the events in occupation is the most popular with viewers and readers of DII media which is an umbrella that « News of Donbas» and DPTV work under.
«Unfortunately, we do not have any opportunity to work on the occupied territory openly. That is why the quality of videos is not always high. However, even in this format they irritate occupation authorities as this way we break their monopoly on information and we are present there too. They get furious and there appear a lot of negative commentaries (on videos in YouTube). They understand there is a gap in their media monopoly», states Vitaliy Syzov.
It is worth to remark that according to DPTV team’s observations, special interest is attracted by videos on resonant political themes devoted to rallies and campaigns on the liberated territory of the Donetsk region. «Such materials undermine the occupants' monopoly. They show that the Donbas is represented by different people with different opinions. It is not «grey mass», the «Donbas Public TV» editor-in-chief summed up.
People think that one person cannot do anything, one man no man. In the conditions of the hybrid war, when the weapons of propaganda are more destructive than heavy artillery, even one information medium may pierce the veil of censorship. It has been proved by the Donetsk Institute of Information team which has been on the media frontline for two years.
«Statistics of our loneliness. Thanks to public organizations, residents of Donetsk, and citizens who are not indifferent, we exist, we are, and it is something!» was written in social networks by journalist Oleksiy Matsuka, Head of the DII Board as a commentary on the photo collage presenting 5 propaganda separatists' channels (excluding the Russian ones) against only one channel — DPTV broadcasting on “DoTeBe”. The fight goes on. The day will come when the legitimate power and freedom of speech come back to the occupied territory.
Everyday life in the Donbas. 5 «DPR» grouping's studios versus «Donbas Public TV»
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