The return of accomplices of pro-Russian propaganda to Ukrainian television broadcasts is unacceptable

The Independent Media Council is concerned about the planned launch of the Ukraine World News TV channel in Ukraine. The editorial team of the channel includes former employees of the banned pro-Russian Ukrainian channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, Inter, Live.Network and ZIK.

On February 2, 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky imposed sanctions against Ukrainian MP Taras Kozak and his companies. As a result, the channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK ceased broadcasting. It was a logical step in the fight against Russian hybrid aggression because these outlets systematically disseminated messages with signs of Kremlin propaganda.

These channels repeatedly denied the fact of Russian aggression against Ukraine on air. There were calls for lifting sanctions on Russia, recognition of the occupation authorities of Donetsk and Luhansk, and "peace at any price" on Putin's terms.  Negotiations between the Opposition Platform-For Life party and its allies in Russia were positioned as an "inter-parliamentary dialogue."

The selection of personnel from these channels for the editorial team of a new channel raises questions about the intentions of the channel's founder. Suppose his position is pro-Ukrainian, and the channel intends to impartially and qualitatively cover events in Ukraine and beyond. Why are people who were until recently assisting or actively disseminating pro-Russian propaganda the best fit for this job?

It is unacceptable to provide a platform for pro-Russian channels broadcasting when Ukraine's defenders give  their lives every day in the fight against the Russian occupiers and Russian missiles are killing Ukrainian civilians.

Considering all of the above:

  • We call on Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council and National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine to monitor the new channel's compliance with the law. It is highly likely that the channel will seek to fill the role played by 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, Live. Network, and ZIK in disseminating Russian propaganda narratives. Should any violations occur, these regulators must  act without delay in accordance with the requirements of current legislation.
  • We call on political forces, authoritative commentators, and experts not to participate in media broadcasts whose employees are connected to pro-Russian channels. This presence carries reputational risks for participants, helps launder the reputation of those who contributed to the spread of pro-Russian narratives in Ukraine, and helps disseminate the views of those who previously spread or were complicit in Russian propaganda.
  • We call on law enforcement agencies to investigate whether former employees of 112, Zik, NewsOne disseminated information that violates national legislation.
  • New media legislation will soon enter into force, so it is worth paying attention to additional content restrictions that will be implemented to protect the security of the national information space. Therefore, even if the channel receives a license, civil society should carefully monitor its activities and, in case of violations, write to the National Council with a demand for an appropriate response.