Spilnota Detector Media

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In 2024, the Rada parliamentary TV channel did not invite a single representative of the European Solidarity parliamentary faction for interviews, appearances, or guest studios. This does not include brief appearances in segments like Parliamentary Week. 

Regardless of personal opinions about its representatives, European Solidarity is the second-largest faction in the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada. The Verkhovna Rada is an institution of representative democracy, and the Rada channel is a state-controlled media outlet that operates for the sake of the voters and is funded by their taxes.

To illustrate the problem, one only needs to read the description of Rada on its YouTube page: "The parliamentary TV channel Rada broadly covers the activities of all parliamentary factions and deputy groups." Or the even more revealing description on the broadcaster's website: "The programs produced by the Parliamentary TV channel are aimed at fully meeting the society's need for a wide range of information about parliamentary activities, preventing censorship regarding events in the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine."

And yet, there is undeniable censorship on Rada. This channel invites representatives of all other groups and factions except European Solidarity, systematically avoiding this specific political force month after month.

Here is a fact that chills the blood of any democrat: NOT ONE national marathon channel, except for Suspilne, has invited European Solidarity this year

Neither Kolomoisky's 1+1, nor Firtash/Liovochkin's Inter, nor Pinchuk's ICTV/STB, nor the officially Ihor Petrenko's My Ukrayina channel. Zilch, not once. This raises questions about who truly controls these channels if they agree to guest censorship in favor of the government.

The systematic restriction specifically of European Solidarity on five different channels is a decision, motive, and influence that only the President's Office could have. And again, since in our politicized reality, this bears repeating: it's not about Poroshenko. The point is that in a democratic country, the government gathered commercial TV channels under one umbrella and banned them from inviting representatives of a specific opposition party. Moreover, it took away airtime in digital broadcasting from this party's TV channels.

A stark evidence of favoritism in the news marathon is that representatives of the Servant of the People faction were invited 505 times in the first four months of 2024. This is twice as many representatives of all other parliamentary factions and groups combined. For those planning to use the speculative argument that such representation of the monomajority in the media is proportional to its representation in parliament, the "Servants" have 41% more members than all other factions combined. In the media, they have 133% more airtime.

Even representatives from the President's Office usually appear twice as often each month on the marathon as any individual parliamentary faction.

In reality, the media's monomajority should not mathematically correlate with the parliamentary majority. Imagine there is a controversial issue, such as the land market, and each faction and group of the IX convocation expresses their opinion in a report through one representative. According to the marathon's logic, this topic would then be commented on by nine Servants of the People representatives.

But let's stick with censorship. Below is the guest policy of the TV channels of the United News telethon for the first four months of this year, from which several conclusions can be drawn:

On some TV channels, the only opinion is that of the government. On Inter and My Ukrayina, guests from Servant of the People make up 96% and 92% of the parliamentary guests, respectively. This sounds even more striking in absolute numbers — Inter invited only three non-government representatives over four months. 

This indicates that the issue is not that some media avoid political topics or invite fewer MPs overall. All channels invite politicians, but not all invite anyone other than Servant of the People.

On the other hand, sometimes inviting everyone to the party only highlights the absence of an invitation for someone specific. On Rada, 23.8% of guests represent other political forces, not the ruling party. Even the Dovira group was invited here more often than any other channel invited any opposition political force, except Suspilne. Yet, the parliamentary broadcaster managed not to give European Solidarity a single opportunity to speak this year. Deafening silence.

However, the censorship and favoritism of the other marathon members are most emphasized by Suspilne. Overall, this channel accounted for only 31.6% of politicians on the United News marathon. But every opposition parliamentary faction appeared here more frequently this year than on all other channels combined. Seriously. Suspilne invited representatives of Holos 41 times, while all other channels combined did so 33 times. Suspilne featured members of Batkivshchyna 32 times, while all other channels combined did so 25 times. And only Suspilne showed representatives of European Solidarity.

Thus, the problem is even bigger than Petro Poroshenko's party. Out of six marathon channels, only one adequately ensures the representation of opposition political forces while still not ignoring the government — 42% of the politicians were from Servant of the People. 

If we exclude Suspilne, 82.5% of all political guests on United News are members of Servant of the People.

This dystopian situation spits on freedom of speech. 

Now, as Suspilne branches off from the marathon, the main official Ukrainian TV broadcast may feature even fewer opposition voices, possibly eliminating the [voice of the] second-largest parliamentary faction altogether.

There is no justification for this policy. The marathon discusses topics, including about 15% of the airtime, related to internal Ukrainian politics, which implies diverse opinions, not just the government's stance. Besides the ruling party, representatives of other parties also participate in and sometimes lead various committees, groups, commissions, and delegations. None of the parliamentary factions pose an objective informational threat to Ukraine — there are no questions about why no one invites the remnants of Opposition Platform — For Life to the air.

Against the backdrop of two years of full-scale war, the parliamentary guest policy of United News has degenerated into an informational dictatorship by the government. This is not an exaggeration. What else can you call a situation where eight out of ten people on the air represent the government, and no channel shows a specific political force?

This situation is truly frightening.

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