It is not breaking news that TV is not playing such an important role for youngsters this day as it did 10 years ago. At the same time, among older viewers it is still the main source of information. And that is why the closer the elections, the more it is used to manipulate public opinion.
The European Union has already expressed concerns regarding absence of plurality on our TV. When on one hand everything is being done to shut down opposition channel TVi while on the other hand the national (state and oligarch owned) channels run smearing campaigns against the opposition you don't need to be an international observer to add things up.
And another touch: there is 75% more of positive information about the Party of Regions on central TV than about the opposition. And you can forget about fair and democratic elections. Or about the things that Viktor Yanukovych likes and Mykola Azarov like to say about them. Take TVi situation for example. Azarov says that the matter is not worth and the very next day the channel is shut down in Kherson, Sumy, Simferopol, and Poltava.
At the same time the activities of the state channel UT-1 (the First National) are dedicated to smearing opposition. In the first days of October the opposition representatives accused the management of spreading lies about it.
"For three days the First National TV Channel has been running a 6-minute movie captioned as "Political advertisement" that none of it but instead contains false untruthful information regarding the United opposition and its leaders," said Knyazevych.
The UT-1 in this campaign turned into something strange. You can joke that nobody really watches the First National Channel but if you leave the prejudice out of it than you have to realize that at least the rural population does. And they are not alone. I overheard a phrase said by one security guard to another: "We'll see what they say at Shuster's about it." It shows that whether we like it or not there are people who unequivocally trust the TV. And it should be acknowledged that the UT-1 has started real political activities. The claims by the opposition were mentioned above. And it was the UT-1 and Inter channels who conducted an operation of artificially raising the ratings of Klitschko's Strike party. These two channels aired doubtful results of the sociological research showing Klitschko's party in the second place. And there is a fact that the UT-1 was named number one in the amount of PR news items. According to Telekritika monitoring the most paid by campaigns and censored channels are ICTV, Ukraina, the First National, and Inter.
Along the lines Savik Shuster has established a profitable business. Thus 'Savik Shuster Studio' offers candidates 45-minute participation in the program on the First National Channel for 20,000 USD. Preferably cash. The way things are going I won't be surprised if they stop accepting 500 euro bills. But if you do away with the lyrics you will see that Shuster has some unusual guests. For example, the co-owner of Savik Shuster Studio' Pavlo Elizarov is an unofficial government candidate and is practically living in the studio. Recently we have also seen Oleksandr Tretyakov - another questionable candidate who still positions himself as opposition. However, he is not hiding the possibility of working with the Party of Regions. On this background we have an instance when opposition candidate Tetyana Chornovil encountered censorship in Shuster Live in September. "I encountered open cheating with live broadcast in Shuster's program. My 1-minute speech was not available to viewers - some heard it partially because the sound was lost, some have not heard or seen anything. Somehow this one minute just disappeared from live broadcast," she wrote on her blog. Chornovil noted that in the re-run of the program on September 22 nobody has seen her speech. And this is how the First Channel works for the taxpayers money.
Other channels do not lag behind much. For example, Inter Channel on the day of the Noble Prize awarding (Yulia Tymoshenko was one of the m\nominees) ran an interesting story naming a long list of nominees but Tymoshenko was barely mentioned somewhere in the end. Not a crime but it stands out. No doubt that if a regime representative was nominated we would hear a whole story about it. EU Ambassador to Ukraine Jan Tombinski on his press conference stated: "Television can be used as a main means of educating citizens, creating citizens. And we see the media (in Ukraine) concentrating on creating voters and influencing elections, to make sure they vote in favor of media owners." This politically correct statement contains the main idea - TV in Ukraine is being partisan instead of developing the society.
"Shusterization" (from the name of the popular TV host Savik Shuster - formerly worked in Russia, emigrated to Italy and for over 5 years has been successful in Ukraine) with all accompanying symptoms is going so far so good. But how long will this kind of TV be needed - entertaining but pointless in essence, manipulating the facts and not able to tell the truth? Probably not long. In the Internet era it is simply doomed.