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TV broadcasting in the occupied territory of Donbas: the actual situation and challenges. Part 2

TV broadcasting in the occupied territory of Donbas: the actual situation and challenges. Part 2

Please follow the link to read the 1st  part of the story

Broadcasting in the conditions of occupation

Analog and digital TV broadcasting

A feature of the media in the occupied areas of the Donetsk region is their direct dependence on local administration. The law "On mass media" adopted by the so-called "People's Council" of "Donetsk People's Republic" declares absence of censorship and the inadmissibility of its introduction. But literally the next article of this document sounds more eloquently: "The inadmissibility to misuse freedom of the mass media". The so-called " misuse of freedom of speech" provides for liability, including criminal. Media activities may be ceased within "countering extremist activities".

According to the mentioned law, "founders of TV channels, radio channels, and legal entities that broadcast are a National Council of the Donetsk People's Republic, and the republican bodies of executive power". Currently, all local television channels that operate in the occupied territory are controlled by the occupation authorities. Also, this "law" states that other individuals and legal entities may be founders of media theoretically only since January, 2017.

Information about the fact that almost all TV channels in the occupied territory are absolutely controlled by the occupation authorities is confirmed by the so-called "minister of information" of "DPR" Elena Nikitina. On January 29, 2015 during a report on the work done for the year she pointed out that eight channels operate in the territory controlled by the "DNR", and six of them are founded by the "Ministry of Information" itself.

The site of the so-called "Council of Ministers of the DPR" contains the information about seven television channels that operate in the occupied territory.

In the occupied territory a media management system similar to the Russian one is built where all the major TV channels are controlled directly or through state-owned companies from a single center. Formally, all local television channels are subordinated to the "Ministry of Information". In reality, they are controlled by different internal groups, and in fact they are privately owned, but the they feed a content within the limits established by the occupation authorities.

These channels have a well-established financial base due to the capture of assets of Ukrainian regional TV channels (studios, equipment, offices). The main television channels of the occupation authorities are the "Pervy respublikansky", "UNION", "Novorossiya", "Oplot." They have well-established facilities and produce high-quality content from a technical point of view, including for regional broadcasters. The products of those television channels include talk shows and programs which are declared to be analytical. In those television programs experts which are loyal to the occupation authorities explain the essence of the events in the occupied territory from a positive point of view for the occupation authorities. Also, they make propaganda against the Ukrainian authorities.

Cable TV

According to the data of the Main Statistical Office in the Donetsk region the number of cable TV subscribers across the region on October 1, 2014 was 173,700.

One of the first requirements of the occupation authorities to cable operators in Donetsk and other cities controlled by "DPR" was cutoff of the Ukrainian TV channels that covered events in the political sphere.

Webcasting

Editorial boards of Web sites from many occupied cities of Donetsk region have been forced to move to the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government because of the inability to work. In addition, the editorial boards have received direct threats to the lives of their employees. Despite this, they have become the only source of alternative information for many people in the occupied territories. Now these sites feed even information about what is happening in the occupied cities. In particular, such the site is www.gorlovka.ua which information is favourable even for representatives of militant groups.

Most editorial boards of these sites have remained without financial support. In peacetime, the advertising market in the small towns of the region was not so great. During wartime the situation became more severe. The local concentration of the media or the lack of experience often do not allow them to receive grants from international donors, so they are forced to close.

In terms of total censorship in the occupation conditions it turned out that media which editorial boards were forced to move, give more relevant information about life in the occupied cities than those who stayed put. People are tired of reading about the endless successes of the "young republic", especially when they do not see these results in real life.

Data of surveys show that Russian social networks Vk.com and Odnoklassniki are the most popular in the occupied territories and beyond them. Facebook being popular among the active part of Ukrainian citizens and journalists, considerably yields to those networks.

Typically, many of the Ukrainian mass media ignore these networks considering that most of their users are not their target group. However, it is the coverage of users of Russian social networks is strategically important to reduce the level of misinformation in the occupied Ukrainian territory.

In occupied territory there has appeared an information vacuum which is not characteristic for the 21st century. Of course, some inhabitants of the occupied regions have access to the Ukrainian TV channels through antennas, satellite antennas and other devices, but it can be stated with certainty that the overall situation with the Ukrainian broadcasting in the occupied territory, and even in the gray zone is critical.

Please follow the link to read the 3rd part of the story:

New service "Explain Ukraine". This is a daily mailout of five articles which were written about the situation in the Donbas by Donbas journalists and translated into English. Honest vision of people who work in the field is unbiased and fresh which is crucial in the world which is full of desinformation and propaganda. We try to share this vision in out daily mailout.  You can subscribe here.

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