Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its European member, the European
Federation of Journalists (EFJ), have today backed a strike by staff from
Ukranian broadcasting station TVi and called for transparent and regulated
media ownership in the country.
to IFJ affiliate, the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU), staff
from TVi began the strike yesterday, Wednesday, 24 April, following an
aggressive overnight takeover by the station’s new owner, America businessman
Alexander Altman, and new director, journalist Artem Shevchenko, which
journalists only learned about when they arrived at work to find the building
surrounded by heavy security on Tuesday morning.
IMTUU says the strike was also called because the new director forbid
journalists at the station from producing any stories about the events of the
takeover on the station’s evening programme. While the new management issued
assurances that there would be no change to the editorial line, within 24 hours
Pavlo Sheremeta, who heads up the evening news programme, was informed that his
contract was terminated.
shocking that an unknown group can take control of a major media company
overnight and call in the police the following morning to protect the building
before any of the staff have even arrived. Similar reckless treatment of media
and staff are likely to occur if the principles of media ownership in the
country remain unclear,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.
call for full transparency and regulation over media ownership in the Ukraine
and the introduction of legislation that guarantees transparency, pluralism and
limits on media ownership.
current situation is harming the reputation of the channel and is weakening
freedom of speech within the Ukraine, so we also encourage the management to
enter a dialogue with the journalists to settle the dispute and protect the
reputation of this respected media organisation.”
IMTUU, which has formed a branch within the TV station that will encourage
discussion between the two parties, says the situation began when journalists
were prevented from entering the station’s building by armed guards when they
arrived for work last Tuesday, 23 April. The station’s previous owner and
director were also prevented from entering.
that same day, the new owner and director called a general meeting with staff
where the new director told journalists they could not comment on the situation
in the station’s evening news programme. According to the IMTUU, it was this
action that led to the decision to strike.
again we see important media institutions, essential for the Ukrainian
democracy, being treated as toys by the rich and powerful,” said EFJ President
Arne Konig. “ It is little wonder that the journalists doubt the
commitments of the new owner to maintaining the same standards and editorial
lines when they are greeted by armed guards and the first protests result in
the termination of a leading news presenter’s contract.’
urge the new owner to start an immediate dialogue with the journalists and the
IMTUU to resolve the differences and that will guarantee the continued rights
and conditions of the employees.”
IMTUU says it is observing the strike and will provide legal and political
support for staff members if there is a violation of their rights.
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries