To close the channel or not to close - that is the question
Andrii Podshchypkov, CEO and owner of 112 Agency, responds to the cases of repressions against 112 Ukraine TV Channel
Viewers of 112 Ukraine TV Channel and the media community have noticed periodic reports of pressure on the channel. The conflicts flared up and then fell silent.
Biased warnings of the National Council on TV and Radio Broadcasting in 2015 have already proved the prejudice of the authorities to 112 Ukraine TV Channel. The decision of the National Council on sparing of licenses for digital broadcasting on September 3 and initiation of criminal proceedings against the channel on September 2 show the final stage of this "dissatisfaction".
I would like to examine the causes and consequences of this attempt to destroy 112 Ukraine - the number one among news broadcasters and member of the Top 10 among all Ukrainian TV channels.
Seemingly, all the democratic values, being talked a much on the Maidan and to numerous embassies and foundations of democratic states, are fundamental to the "112 Ukraine". Access to the air is open for all state officials, law enforcement agencies, representatives of political parties, opinion leaders, representatives of the Ukrainian society from A to Z. There was neither censorship nor informal "recommendations", "black" or "white" lists on the channel from the first day of its work. All topics are served objectively, displaying all opinions and points of view. There are about 450 employees of the channel that every day see and understand all it.
So, why 112 Ukraine TV Channel has become the number one target then, with all this triumph of European values and commitment to journalistic charters? In my opinion, those reasons are several.
1. Editors office of the channel does not accept any "advice" or "recommendations" regarding the format of the news. The whole editorial policy of the channel is absence of such a policy. Our principles are objective and fair news feed. If somehow "fake" seeped into the air, we apologize in live broadcast and correct it. Of course, that annoys the authorities, which are forced to watch and listen to inconvenient truth about themselves.
2. There is a certain rating stimulus. The President has his own channel, which he as a businessman regards as an expensive valued asset. 112 Ukraine, with its new format and objective news feed, excels the Channel 5 at rating for several times, devaluing it. If there weren’t 112 Ukraine, the Channel 5 will become much better.
3. Catalyst. The biggest fear of the Presidential Administration is a new Maidan and revolution. Naturally, the "pro-government" channels traditionally will strongly fight "traitors", but independent media must show the truth, current sentiments, becoming the kind of "catalyst". Therefore, the authorities hurry to bring to heel all the media, which somehow could tell the truth and have the support of viewers/readers.
Here are the main causes of the pressure that have led to warnings, threats, sparing of licenses, criminal cases, provocations, and "black PR", or unthinkable "gingerbread" promises.
But I would still like to say the most important thing - what both the authorities and the audience need to know, and especially the staff of 112 Ukraine. I would like to say what is to come soon. Of course, I cannot foresee the future, but we can consider the further development of this pressure on our channel.
The authorities have forgotten that 112 Ukraine is not a plant that can be taken away or closed, and then sold. 112 Ukraine is the brand of freedom of expression, objectivity, and journalistic ethics. Yes, they can spare the channel of licenses to digital broadcasting. But then it will cause a overwhelming interest in society and in the world - the "closed channel" becomes the "forbidden fruit", as you know. Broadcasting continues via cable networks, satellite, Internet, and Smart-platforms. This will be highlighted also by 112 Europe TV Channel, which is already in its final stages of launching.
The authorities may bring some more far-fetched criminal cases, trying to threaten and intimidate employees of the TV channel. These several days after opening the occurrence and permission for searches in our office showed that our staff did not flinch. Instead of "fear", the channel received offers of assistance or employment from more than 35 journalists.
So I cannot even imagine that 112 Ukraine is defeated.
Our channel may be closed, spared of the license, they can initiate thousand and one criminal proceedings against us, turn off the electricity in the end, but 112 Ukraine will live, will speak the truth, and will be watched. All the actions of the authorities just unite and radicalize our team.
From myself, I can promise the following: despite any actions of the authorities, I will do everything in my power to all the staff to remain at their jobs and fulfill their civic duty to our motherland. Our duty is to speak the truth. And I'm sorry that the Revolution of Dignity has left no spirit of dignity to our authorities.
Once another people tried to close the Channel 5, spared it of the license, in response the channel staff declared hunger strike, so the repressions failed. The channel works. All the more, nothing bad will happen to 112 Ukraine TV Channel, which is already supported by media and political community in the United States and Europe.
In order for 112 Ukraine to win, it must be attacked. We know what to do, and we will win. The truth will always win!
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