Yushchenko Encourages Murdoch to Invest

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko met Tuesday with Rupert Murdoch, and encouraged the media magnate to invest in Ukraine's media.

Yushchenko told Murdoch, the chairman of media giant News Corp., that Ukraine is looking for serious investors, and called his government's commitment to freedom of the press "steadfast," Yushchenko's office said.

President Yushchenko (L) and Media Magnate Murdoch

Murdoch's visit comes amid widespread rumors that two popular television stations, Inter and 1+1, may go on the market. Both are currently controlled by Viktor Medvedchuk, an opposition leader and former chief-of-staff of former President Leonid Kuchma.

Ukraine's television market is still dominated by figures linked to the former government, including Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk. But since last year's Orange Revolution helped usher Yushchenko to power, most stations now offer more balanced coverage.

Yushchenko has made media freedom a central tenant of his presidency, saying he will never resort to the hands-on control that predominated under Kuchma.

Under Ukrainian law, foreigners are barred from owning more than 30 percent of shares in a television company.

Shares of News Corp. rose 5 cents to $16.94 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, where they have traded in a 52-week range of $15.01 to $34.03.

Source: AP