Media Watchdog: Ukraine TV Too Cozy With Leaders

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine's top television networks are too cozy with the country's leaders, reporters are hindered in investigations and independent journalism is under threat in the country's far-flung regions, an international media watchdog said Wednesday.

Jean-Francois Julliard

On a three-day trip to the former Soviet state, the head of the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders, Jean-Francois Julliard, called upon the journalists themselves to seek protection if the authorities won't oblige.

"If there is no political will to protect press freedom, journalists should keep fighting to defend their rights," he said.

Critics say media liberties have been stifled under pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych, who took over from a Western-leaning predecessor earlier this year.

Chief among Julliard's observations were that top management and owners of Ukrainian TV channels are very close with the country's leaders, undermining objective reporting.

Ukraine has one national TV channel and dozens of private networks, but critics say all follow an unwritten rule never undermine or embarrass the authorities.

Julliard noted numerous cases of censorship and political pressure on Ukraine's TV channels where journalists were not allowed to cover some news, such as when Yanukovych was hit by a wreath amid strong winds as he honored war victims.

Media executives also block muckraking probes by their reporters, Julliard said, adding that political pressure on journalists outside the country's capital is even higher than in Kiev.

"Usually journalists in provinces are not so well protected as in capital and we have to find way to protect them more," he said.

Julliard called on Yanukovych to say "he is very committed to defending press freedom."

"If there is no strong political will at the highest level, the situation will go in the wrong direction," he said.

Yanukovych has repeatedly denied accusations of press censorship.

Source: AP

Comments

wesley rodgers said…
REPORTERS WUTHOUT FRONTIERS

NEEDS TO REEVALUATDE ITS OWN

AGENDA.!
___________________________________
A FEW MONTHS AGO I REPORTED A STORY
WHEN REPORTERS WITHOUT FRONTIERS
HAD A NEWS CRED DETAINED,AND FORMATION INFORMATION CONFISCATED AND SOME OF THEIR REPORTING WAS APPARENTLY CURTAILED IN KYIV AND I WROTE A COMMENT ABOUT IT ON KYIV NEWS BLOG.
I WROTE TO ONE OF THE CHIEF EDITORS AT REPORTERS WITHOUT FRONTIERS AND SAID I WAS UPSET WITH WHAT THEY WENT THRU AND WAS WILLING TO CALL FOR AN INTERNAL INVESTIGATION AND ALSO AT THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL.

I NEVER RECEIVED A RETURNED COMMENT EVEN THOUGH I WAS WILLING TO PUT MY REPUTATION ON THE LINE
FOR MY FELLOW REPORTERS AND NOT JUST SEEK MY OWN STORIES FOR MY OWN SELF INTERESTS.!!

REPORTERS WITHOUT FRONTIIERS IS A
VERY REPUTABLE NEWS AGENCY BUT THEY NEED TO START WORKING " DIRECTLY " WITH MANY INDEPENDENT NEWS AGENCIES WORLDWIDE RATHER THAN JUST MONITORING.

HAVING BEEN AN INDEPENDENT REPORRTER AND NEWS ORGANIZATION FOR SOME YEARS NOW I DONT't MISS MY DAYS WITH CNN--ABC-AP RADIO OR OTHERS AND SOME MAJOR TV AFFILIATES.

THE MAIN REASON WHY MANY NEWS ORGANIZATIONSS ARE HAVING PROBLEMS INCLUDING ON THE INTERNET IS BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT WORKING TOGETHER AND AFRID TO HAVE SOME
OF THEIR STORIES PIRATED OR NOT MAKE ENOUGH OF A MARKET IMPACT.

REMEMBER WE ARE TALKING ABOUT
THE INTERNET NOW WHICH IS WORLDWIDE INSTANTANEOUSLY AND ALSO NEEDS TO BE MULTI LINGUAL IN MANY CASES.

TOO MANY INTERNET WRITERS PUT OUT TOO MUCH OPINION AND NOT ENOUGH FACT AND DO NOT GIVE THEIR FELLOW BROTHERS ENOUGH CREDIT FOR STORIES THEY INVESTIGATED WROTE OR PRODUCED.

WHAT'S WRONG IS EVERYONE IS AFRAID THEY ARE GOING TO LOSE THEIR BLESSED CREDIBILITY IF THEY WORK WITH OTHER WEB BASED OR MULTI MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS.

REMEMBER THE OLD ADAGE "UNITED WE STAND-DIVIDED WE FALL": AND THAT
IS SO RELEVANT IN TODAYS EVER CHANGING MULTI MEDIA AND GEO POLITICAL WORLD..LET US ALL WORK TOGETHER AND PRESERVE OUR NEWS CREDIBILOITY AND ORGANIZATION--LESS MEDIA BUYOUTS AND MORE PUBLIC CREDIBILITY.

IN SOME OF THE COUNTRIESWORLDWIDE SOME THINGS WILL NEVER CHAMGE UNLESS MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS BUILD UP ALLIANCES...FORGET ABOUT SOME OF THE GOVERNMENTS--THEY NEVER WILL
CHANGE-LETS GET REAL.!!

THAT IS WHY WE HAVE THE NEWS MEDIA.

WHILE ON ASSIGNMENT IN ODESSA IN JANUARY OF 2006 I WAS WALKING DOWNTOWN, STOPPED BY A UKRAINE
PATROL AND MARCHED OUT TO A PIER AT THE BACK SEA--INTERROGATED-MY CAMERA CHECKED AND ALMOST THROWN IN THE BLACK SEA.
I EXPLAINED I WAS ON BASIC ASSIGNMENT-LOVED UKRAINE AND ITS
CULTURE AND RUSSIA AND THAT UKRAINE IS A GREAT COUNTRY.
THE OFFICERS SAID SBA-SIBA I GAVE THEM A BOTTLE OF VODKA AND WE ALL
HAD A COUPLE DRINKS ON THIS COLD WINTER NIGHT,THEN TALKED AND THEY LET ME AND SAID..YOU GOOD MAN WELSEY--YOU HAVE GOOD RESPECT FOR UKRAINE AND RUSSIAN CULTURE...
THAT IS HOW WE WIN THE BATTLES AND BREAK THE CULTURAL BARRIERS, RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING AND
TODAY I AM STILL FRIENDS WITH THESE OFFICERS.
IT ALL HAPPENS OUT ON THE STREETS WITH THE REAL PEOPLE, CITIZENS AND IN SOME SMALL CAFE-NOT IN BIG GOVERNMENT BOARD MEETING ROOMS...THAT IS WHY I GOT RESPECT AND A GOOD STORY.
Wes Rodgers PATRIOTSTV.COM
THE PHILADELPHIA BULLETIN.
west-patriot@msn.com