Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine reports on the resumption of broadcasting of Ukrainian TV channels in frontline Popasnaya, Stanitsa Luhansk and Schastye. But Ukrainian Luhansk region continues to watch Russian TV and listen to Russian radio. The reason for this situation is availability of Russian media for population.
Millions on propaganda
It would seem that the problem of proving the population with Ukrainian TV radio broadcasting should be near the contact line. For example, in Bakhmut track area. But the most serious problem today are in Troyetskoye district in the north of Luhansk region that borders on with Kharkov region and Belgorod region of the Russian Federation. There is no Ukrainian radio station in Troyetskoye district. There are also no Ukrainian TV channels, but there is Russian television.
"Russia blacks out our wavelength easily. Very powerful transmitters are almost on the border and broadcast Russian TV channels and radio stations. Unfortunately, we don’t have such equipment,"- told Denis Denishchenko, ex-director of the Department of Mass Communications of the Luhansk Regional Military and Civil Administration and the head of Luhansk Tribun regional newspaper.
The fact that Russia spends impressive amounts on providing the population of Luhansk with its media products is confirmed by words of the information source close to the leaders of "ministry" of the "LPR" on information policy. "Moscow spends almost a million dollars almost every month on its transmitters that broadcast in the Ukrainian border areas," - he says. Russian money, according to the source, is spent on the maintenance of analog broadcasters in borderline Belgorod, Voronezh and Rostov regions of the Russian Federation. Moreover, financial support from Russia allows even mobile broadcasters to operate on the basis of command and staff vehicles near the demarcation line.
It should be noted that according to international agreements "Geneva-06" as of June 17th, 2015 RF’s analog transmitters must not black out digital TV signals of neighboring states. However, the problems of the above mentioned state regarding compliance with international law has long been known and said a lot about.
At the same time, Ukraine even without the "help" of Russia cannot cope with providing Luhansk region with radio and television broadcasting.
"The Ministry of Information Policy imitates work but does nothing. It's hard to say what the reason for such immature attitude to Luhansk, because as far as we know from the words of our colleagues in Donetsk region, Ministry of Information Policy does more there. Again very simply, there is no funding. Why is there no money? It is a question rather to the heads of the Ministry," - said a source in the Luhansk Regional Military and Civil Administration.
Denis Denishchenko also talks on the problem of the lack of systematic work to provide Luhansk with Ukrainian signal. According to him, today the main burden was put on the shoulders of volunteers and initiative activists. In addition, the ex-official noted lack of interest in what is happening in the region on the part of the central Ukrainian TV channels: "I've seen a couple of correspondents from central channels for the past few months. There is no centralized location in the region. Epreso TV, Radio Svoboda are, perhaps, all the media with correspondents in our region. Maybe I don’t know something, but I'm talking about those who are constantly in the public eye."
"If telly were bombed"
Russian analogue TV is equally available to residents of Luhansk region, not only in Troyetsoye district. Markovsk, Melovoye, Belovodsk, frontline Stanitsa Luhansk and Popasnya districts have high-quality access to the Russian analog television. According to local residents, quality of the broadcasting was rarely poor even during active hostilities. Only black out of electricity could stop the flow of Russian TV propaganda. "Well, If telly were bombed...," – joke the locals.
A number of residents of Stanitsa Luhansk including forced migrants from the occupied territories of the region reported on possibility to watch only Russian television as of mid-March of this year.
"Only Russian channels, even Luhansk 24 (separatist TV channel broadcasting on the basis of the LOT TV channel equipment in Luhansk - OtsroV). The same story with tradio. Rostov-on-Don, Voronezh stations, something strange in the Caucasian languages, but no Ukrainian wavelength," - said Victoria Yefimova, forced migrant from Stakhanov who lives in Stanitsa Luhansk.
Lack of Ukrainian signal is noted by OstroV’s sources in the 92nd mechanized brigade located in the area of Schastye that is a few dozen kilometers from the territory of the "LPR" (Novoaydar district Luhansk region). Schastye residents say that frontline towns can easily get acquainted with the views of Luhansk "journalists" of Luhansk 24 channel or Russian1.
"We are sitting, listening how bloody khunta, meaning us, eat babies and rape old women. Although, we have got out of trend recently. Putin is now saving originally Russian Syria or there is something else today,"- laugh fighters of the brigade and without laughter state that "locals, in general, are good guys, but often believe separatist TV. There is nothing else to watch ...".
Lithuanian and Polish "second-hand"
Press service of the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine continuously reported on the work on the restoration of Ukrainian signal in Luhansk. For example, on March 10th they restored Ukrainian broadcasting at radio frequency 102.5 FM in front-line Popasnaya and work of Luhansk regional television. According to adviser to the Minister of Information Policy Alexander Brigints, Popasnaya is one of the cities that has its television tower, but it does not work.
During the meeting with the deputy mayor of Popasnaya Irina Gapotchenko he said: "We have repeatedly tried to resume work of the TV tower, but on the one hand, constant attacks hinder the process, and on the other hand, - infrastructure of the television tower is significantly destructed, equipment is destroyed. Therefore, the MIP and BRT found other way, in particular they strengthened the transmitters in the neighboring towns - Severodonetsk, Lisichansk and Bakhmut from where the signal reaches Popasnaya now."
However, Popasnaya residents disagree with Brigints’ optimism. According to them, T2 network subscribers have lost all signal in general and terrestrial antenna does not want to broadcast Ukrainian TV channels, but Russian channels are of perfect quality. Press service of the Ministry of Information Polict quoting deputy Tatiana Popova, in its turn, reported on the restoration of "1 + 1" and LOT (Luhansk regional television, Severodonetsk) channels in Popasnaya.
By the way, Ministry of Information Policy appealed to the partner countries, that abandoned analog broadcasting, to provide equipment for the expansion of broadcasting in the ATO area. According to experts of the Ministry, it is possible to provide these areas with Ukrainian signal in this way.
Lithuanians and Poles have responded. On September 24th, 2015 analog TV transmitter of 5 kW was put into operation at Starobelsk RTPS, Luhansk branch of BRT Concern, Poland gave it to broadcast programmes of Luhansk regional television and radio company. As a result of taken measures, the transmitter range can be up to 80-90 km, which allows you to transmit Ukrainian signal around the northern part of the region.
On October 9th, 2015 TV transmitter from the Republic of Lithuania was put into operation near Luhansk. Broadcast is conducted on 25th TV channel. According to Ministry of Information Policy, as a result of taken measures, residents of Stanitsa Luhansk district and part of Luhansk are provided with the opportunity to receive the Ukrainian signal. But residents of occupied Luhansk do not agree with this information.
"Ukrainian TV channels? I haven’t watched for six months. The relatives have not watched, friends haven’t watched, friends’ friends haven’t watched too. Even Ukrainian websites are blocked. Maybe you confuse something? Ukrainian TV? ? Are you sure," - commented a Luhansk resident on the situation.
On October 21st, 2015 television transmitter was put into operation in Svatovo to broadcast programmes of IRTA Independent TV and Radio Company on the 38th channel. This transmitter is also among those that have been received from Lithuania. Lithuanians also provided Belovodsk with a transmitter, on October 30th, 2015 IRTA programmes started to be broadcast on the 43rd channel.
Another transmitter from Lithuania, which was put into operation in Markov district in November 2015, allowed, according to the press service of the Ministry, to transmit the signal of five Ukrainian TV channels. Similar Lithuanian transmitter was installed in Starobelsk district.
Radio broadcasting is a separate issue. According to Ministry of Information Policy, four broadcast-FM transmitters in Starobelsk, Belovodsk, Zorinovka and Belolutsk provide broadcasting of Gromadske radio on territory of Starobelsk and bordering Belovodsk, Melovskoye, Novopskov districts of Luhansk region. The signal should also cover even the adjacent territory of the Russian Federation and partially Lugansk. Moreover, the transmitter in Lisichansk, installed on December 5th, 2015, that broadcasts Ukrainian Puls FM on frequency 105.9 MHz should reach Stakhanov and Alchevsk that are beyond the control of Ukraine. The most disturbing is that residents neither of Luhansk, nor of Stakhanov and Alchevsk have heard Puls radio.
Adviser to the Minister Briginets, however, believes that the Ukrainian signal affect even the "LPR" militants. The adviser said that during his visit to the 29th checkpoint in Luhansk: "Guys say that sometimes the enemy discusses Ukrainian news in open communication, which we can also hear. Therefore, we can say that the Ukrainian television affects the enemy."
29th checkpoint. Photos – Ministry of Information Policy
At this time, "broadcasting" is carried out through the speaker hung in the center of frontal Trekhizbenka. And only thanks to the help of volunteers.
"I understand that our state cannot afford to install a transmitter for several villages today, so I together with volunteers headed for our own radio. We have already developed an information reporting system that is a speaker in the center of the village. The next step is to launch the radio. The equipment has been already installed, but we need a specialist to start who still cannot do his job due to constant attacks," - said the head of the Regional Military and Civil Administration Colonel Ruslan Tkachuk.
Lie can not be shown
Despite financing, equipment and covering problems, the main problem today is the quality and competitiveness of Ukrainian content compared to the Russian one.
"First of all, you need to provide decent content for a person to swap Russian television for Ukrainian one ... You can build or not build a repeater, but if the Ukrainian television content isn’t competitive, we will have what we have," - had previously stated head of the Luhansk Regional Military and Civil Administration Georgiy Tuk to journalists.
Residents of Luhansk controlled by Ukraine are sharper and more critical in their statements.
"We know that Russian propaganda is false and aggressive. We see what is happening around. We communicate with our Ukrainian soldiers, we know forced migrants personally that fleed from brutal Putin’s militants. But why are there no Ukrainian journalists and if they come here, then do not show the truth? Why don’t they talk about the ever-hungry conscript boys from western Ukraine who get extremely cold in the winter on torn mattresses in the middle of the field? Why don’t they show AFU officers’ drunkenness who ran for vodka in exchange for volunteer condensed milk? Maybe someone in Kiev believes, but such reports in which invincible Ukrainian army almost approaches Moscow only cause desire to spit at the TV. Such journalism is not better than the Russian propaganda. We feel pity for young lads, maybe it’s better that they do not see them," - said resident of Stanitsa Luhansk district, pensioner Yelena.
Ostap Gorodenko, OstroV