Ukrainian Court Backpedals on Broadcast Rights

By Andrey Volkov
Andrey Volkov
Andrey Volkov
August 31, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

Protesters, mainly journalists and artist, gather in front of a court in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, to protest against media censorship.   (Genya Savilov/Getty Images )
Protesters, mainly journalists and artist, gather in front of a court in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, to protest against media censorship. (Genya Savilov/Getty Images )
A Kyiv Appeals Court on Monday decided to cut additional broadcasting for two independent television channels bringing onslaught of fresh criticism against the government for it's continued restriction of press freedom in Ukraine.

The court announced that the two channels, Channel 5 and TBi, will have their broadcast frequencies cancelled.

The decision comes after a lengthy legal process, which has been accompanied by domestic and international criticism against Ukrainian officials for curtailing media around the country.

In January, The National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine (NTRBC) offered a tender to provide national TV channels with additional broadcasting frequencies.

Channels 5 and TBi won the tender ahead of the pro-government Inter Media Group—a large broadcasting company, which includes several national television channels.

The Inter Media Group claimed the decision was illegal and brought the issue to court, which ruled in June that the tender's procedure had violations.

Channel 5 has accused National Security chief, Valeriy Khoroshkovksy, former owner of the Inter Media Group, of influencing the decision to cancel its broadcasting.

Khoroshkovksy, whose wife is the owner of the Inter Media Group, has denied the allegations.

Other media and rights groups, including The International Press Institute (IPI), have expressed concern about today's ruling which will force the NTRBC to offer a new tender with more TV channels participating.

Channel 5 said that it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, and if that did not work, it would go to the European Court for final appeals.

“Actuality, the court hearing looked pretty unclear and the advocates made mistakes. It seemed to me that the court had had a certain decision beforehand,” Kiev Press Institute quoted the editor-in-chief of Channel 5 Vladimir Mjelskiy as saying.

Roman Golovenko, a media expert with Kiev Press Institute said that the Broadcasting Council had a history of bad decision-making process which was criticized a lot before.

“Generally, the court proceedings have put in question the legitimacy of the council’s activities not only over the controversial tender, but of many other issues,” the organization reported.

International human rights organizations say that press freedom has declined sharply in Ukraine, since pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych assumed power earlier this year.

After Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had met journalists and officials in July, it concluded that “it became more and more problematic in Ukraine to be an independent journalist.”