Closing TV channel at any cost: Punishment for “112 Ukraine TV Channel” for thoughts expressed by guests live on the air

Author : News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine's National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting is preparing to inflict a penalty on the 112 Ukraine TV channel by the end of the month. On January 9, the regulator ordered an unscheduled on-site inspection of the broadcaster, explaining this by signs of violation of the norms of the law of Ukraine "On Television and Radio Broadcasting" and the law of Ukraine "On Information", reportedly captured on the air. The reason for the appointment of the audit was the statements of the guests of the TV channel, which allegedly contained the so-called hate speech. The act of the inspection has already been drawn up, and the indictment plot is known. After a warning or a fine is issued, 112 Ukraine TV channel will come under pressure - any repeated violation that has been invented will allow the National Broadcast Council to apply the most severe sanction - request the court to revoke the broadcasting license. According to our information, this is precisely what the regulator is seeking for.
19:41, 26 February 2020

112 Agency

On January 22, authorized representatives of Ukraine's National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting drew up an act of unscheduled on-site inspection of the 112 Ukraine TV channel. Surprisingly, but the officials selectively checked out programs with the opposition politicians as guests. Actually, the entire inspection report is a set of quotes by Viktor Medvedchuk, Vadym Rabinovich, Olena Lukash, Natalya Korolevska, Renat Kuzmin, Oleh Voloshyn, Ilya Kyva, and others in the programs "Big Interview", "LIVE", "Voice of the People", "The Pulse", " The Dialogue with the country". It is interesting that the representatives of the pro-government political force were also among the guests of these talk shows, however, not a single statement by members of the Ze-team was of the interest of the Broadcast Council. Unlike criticisms of the opposition, they were tracked since the beginning of August 2019, that is, the National Council already had a selection of programs on 112 Ukraine TV channel for a 5-months period, and the appointment of an unscheduled inspection on January 9 seemed to be a pure formality.

The act of an unscheduled on-site inspection of 112 Ukraine TV Channel

It is obvious, that the statements of the politicians in political talk shows are not the editorial policy of the broadcaster, but a personal opinion of each and every politician voiced live. 112 Ukraine TV channel invites representatives of all the political forces. It was exactly on air of 112 Ukraine TV channel when Yevhen Brahar, Ukrainian MP form the Servant of the People political party, advised Ukrainians to sell dogs to pay utility bills, or when Oleh Lyashko, leader of the radicals, came on the air with a dog, protesting against such kind of advice. Nevertheless, the National Council is only interested in the statements of the MPs from the Opposition Platform - For Life political party. Even if 112 Ukraine TV channel was engaged in censorship, it is unclear how the National Council imagines it should be done with bleeping the undesirable statements on the air.

However, according to our information, the content of the channel does not matter in this case. One of the members of the National Council on condition of anonymity states that the President’s Office demands that the regulator closes 112 Ukraine and ZIK channels. This demand came last year from the then head of the President’s Office Andriy Bohdan.

The President’s Office started attacking 112 Ukraine since the fall. First, digital licenses were taken from the broadcaster. Then they demonstratively did not call it for a conversation with President Zelensky, out of record arguing about “tough position” towards the authorities. Law enforcement agencies under the new president did not even begin to investigate shooting at a channel building from a grenade launcher. Then the OP began an open confrontation with objectionable journalists. Draft laws “On Media” and “On Disinformation” have appeared, which experts assess as a fight against freedom of speech and independent media. In the National TV Council, Olha Herasymiuk agreed to realize Bohdan’s demand to destroy 112 Ukraine.

Herasymiuk was appointed to the National TV Council on the quota of the 1+1 group. It is not a secret that regulator is a club in which leading media groups defend their interests and fight against competitors. Olha Herasymiuk is such a valuable shot for the “pluses” that the Ze-team even went against the law, ignoring the fact that the term of office of a member of the National Council has long expired. Olha is now 61 years old, and she will not be able to hold the position of a member of the National Council by age. Nevertheless, according to our information, Bohdan promised her to solve this question in case of a positive resolution of the 112 Ukraine issue.

According to the documents, Serhiy Kostynsky is responsible for the checks on 112 Ukraine, and for the “needed” result he was promised closure of the criminal case for embezzlement of 4 million dollars for the purchase of monitoring equipment. 


Media is punished for political activity

However, due to the lack of grounds to close the channel the National Council had an idea with the so-called hostility language. Judging by the monitoring activities, the hate speech in Ukraine is a criticism by the leaders of the Opposition Platform - For Life of the actions of the Ze-team. And to make the list of “violations” more impressive, the National Council decided to extend the monitoring period to another 5 (!) months. What did the National Council dig up over these 5 months and can this really be regarded as a hate language?

For example, in the opinion of the National Council, such as the story about Viktor Medvedchuk’s visit to St. Petersburg and his meeting with Vladimir Putin. The story is about the creation of the inter-factional parliamentary association “Inter-parliamentary dialogue for peace ....”

And now we read the explanation of the National Council about this story. “Saying on the air of the TV channel of such statements:

“The main national priority, the priority of national security of Ukraine today is making peace and rapprochement between Ukraine and Russia”;

“We need to become as strong as Russia, so as not to look back at anyone...Russia has beaten everyone today. It is already clear that the story of sanctions resulted in nothing, it only strengthened Russia”;

"Vladimir Putin, Minsk agreements, which have no alternative for us, and we have received such a mandate from the voters, what is the political part in it? In the adoption of laws: special election law, status law, amnesty law and amendments to the Constitution. Who will do it? The parliament. That is why there is a union in the framework of inter-parliamentary dialogue”;

... it is a violation ... (it is not allowed to use TV and radio broadcasting organizations to voice calls for an aggressive war or its propaganda and inciting national, racial and religious hatred, it is not allowed to broadcast programs that popularize or promote the bodies of an aggressor country)."

The act of an unscheduled on-site inspection of 112 Ukraine TV Channel

That is, three citations noted by the verifiers were considered by the National Council as incitement to war or propaganda of Russia. It is a question where they saw it.

Here is a statement of Vadim Rabinovich in the LIVE News program: “The freedom of speech today is systematically destroyed. Before our eyes, the orders voiced at Bankova to destroy NewsOne, 112 Ukraine and ZIK channels are being carried out. They say that they don’t understand Russian, and I’m telling them in Ukrainian, “today and now they have destroyed the freedom of speech, they are worthy descendants of Goebbels.” The inspectors have highlighted this with bold text. And the argument: “Goebbels is an appellative name, it is an accusation of Nazism.”

Some other from quotes of Rabinovich highlighted with bold text:

“In 3 months, not a single hospital in Ukraine will receive any salaries, money, nothing.”

“They bent in under a country’s narrow small group of nationalists, pseudo-patriots, those who are inciting war and can’t do anything about them, they don’t know how to deal with them ... Those are is not the authorities of our future, they will continue to kill its people.”

“I want to tell you, Servants of the People, “You are the servants of the devil. People who sell their land are servants of the devil ...”

Apparently, this also went under the “incitement of hatred.” But there are no calls here, there are evaluative judgments of the MP on the policy of the current government. Remember that some current MPs from Servants of the People Party wrote and spoke about the authorities of Petro Poroshenko. No one was punished for this.

According to our information, there was a special order from the OP on Rabinovich and Medvedchuk. It is connected with the political activities of the leaders of the Opposition Platform – For Life, aimed at the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas and reconciliation with Russia. “Herasymiuk was asked to make Medvedchuk and Rabinovich the main “culprits” because they need to be “knocked down” and their activities must be stopped,” our source said. That is why a neutral story about Medvedchuk’s visit to Russia got into the “monitoring”.

At the same time, as our source says, the National Council’s lawyers were initially opposed to such a buildup, since it would be very difficult to prove it legally, but Herasymiuk and Kostynsky insisted that Medvedchuk be included in the list of “violations”. 

In addition, the inclusion of Vadim Rabinovich’s statements into monitoring is a different story, since a politician expresses such things even in the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada, which means that, according to the logic, an inspection and a warning should be made to the Rada TV channel and all the channels that re-broadcast Rada TV channel. But, of course, we see nothing of the kind.


Speak quite or you will be heard

Among other statements of the politicians which became the pretext for inspection, note the words of Renat Kuzmin:

“It is obvious for me that Ukraine is today under exterior management…They need Ukraine to rob it and use it against Russia.”

“They fulfill orders and do what they are told and they are told to the following: to let them rob the country, steal everything that has not yet been stolen and most importantly – to give them complete control over Ukrainian land.”

The act of an unscheduled on-site inspection of 112 Ukraine TV Channel

Or the words of Olena Lukash:

“Isn’t it that we live in a system of myths how evil Berkut and monstrous previous authorities or was it the one before last, - killed “peaceful” protesters?”

Or the words of Illya Kiva:

“Our country is being turned into a colony.”

“In the parliament, we have thieves, bummers, dropouts, swindlers, and these people today flush our country down the toilet.”

“These people do not want peace. These people do not want to work for the prosperity of our state. Their task is to turn it into a colony.”

The act of an unscheduled on-site inspection of 112 Ukraine TV Channel

And so on. The channel even got blamed for the words of Anna Herman who said that setting the course for NATO harmed Ukraine.

As we see, all these statements (one can agree with them or not, it is a matter of preferences) – are their personal opinions about the happenings in the country. Imagine the situation that in France they try to close a channel because it showed on air an interview with Marine Le Pen who criticizes Emmanuel Macron and all the French authorities. Imagine that the same happens in the United Kingdom when opposition in media criticizes the Brexit course. Even in Russia, it is impossible though there are many public figures starting from Vladimir Zhirinovsky to Yuriy Dud who criticize Putin. And sometimes it is shown on the main channels of the country.

But in Ukraine, after Ze-team came to power, the fighting against the media only increased. Today you cannot hear far-fetched harsh statements about the authorities. Only uncontrolled by the authorities and their satellite channels you can hear alternative points of view. At least for now, you can but the authorities do everything to wipe them out.

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