The Academy of Ukrainian Press (AUP) conducted research of prime-time news (19:00-23:00) covered by seven leading Ukrainian TV channels: ‘Inter’, ‘1+1’, ‘Ukraiina’, ‘STB’, ‘ICTV’, ‘UA: The First’ and ‘Channel 5’ based on the content analysis method with the participation of scientists from the Institute of Sociology, National Academy of Science of Ukraine.

Trends of prime-time news for March 2019:

SUMMARY. The share of political news in Ukraine is the largest in television news programs of all channels in March. All the other news about Ukraine traditionally prevail at 1+1 channel. Channels vary in intensity of attention to political news. The main sources of information are scene correspondents. Attention to the presidential election increased from 18% in February to 22% in March, 2019. The TV channels are varying according to the share of attention while covering the elections 2019. Each third message about Ukraine is referring the topic of election campaign at such TV channels as: “Inter”, “ICTV”, “Ukraiina”; each eleventh  message was broadcast by UA: The First; and each twelfth by Channel 5. News mentioned 17 presidential candidates out of 44, registered by the Central Election Committee (CEC) (39% comparing to 34% in February). The most frequently reported campaigns were of Y. Timoshenko, O. Vilkul, P. Poroshenko, O. Lyashko. The highest attention in news was paid to political candidates P. Poroshenko, Y.Tymoshenko, O. Lyashko, O.Vilkul, Y. Boyko. Anatolii Hrytsenko was discussed only in a positive and neutral context; Yulia Tymoshenko and Yurii Boyko received a minimum of ironic and negative messages. Yurii Tymoshenko and Yevhenii Muraiev were mostly mentioned in ironic and negative colors. The highest share of news broadcast time have P. Poroshenko, O. Vilkul, O. Lyashko, Y. Tymoshenko, Y. Boyko. Over the last 2 months, Volodymyr Zelenskyi has been taking direct speech only in news of 1+1. Channels are highly segmented in accordance with their own political preferences.

TOPICS AND MESSAGES. In the first week of March, 40% of news program coverage was related to political events in Ukraine (in February 2019 – 38%). ICTV covered 52% of such messages; UA: The First and STB broadcast 48% of them each one; and 1+1 channel was the least inclined to do so with only 20% of such messages (comparing to 27% in February, 2019). The attention to election campaign 2019 increased comparing to February, 2019 from 18 % of all reports about Ukraine to 22% of them now (in 2014 it was 18%). Inter drew the highest attention to the topic (33%; in February: 27%);  “Ukraiina” channel got 31% (in February: 26%); 29% went to ICTV (in February: 25%); and the lowest attention was observed at Channel 5 (8%) and UA: The First – 9% (in February: 5%).

All news of the week reported on 17 candidates into presidency, though 5 of them withdrew their candidacy (39% of officially registered). Among all mentions about the candidates, the majority went to P. Poroshenko: 11.1% (in February: 9.3%); Y. Tymoshenko: 6.1% (in February: 4.7%); O. Vilkul: 4.1% (in February: 2.7%); Y. Boiko: 3.2% (in February: 1.8%); V. Zelenskyi: 2.5% (in February: 1.6 %); O. Liashko: 2% (in February: 2.9%); A. Hrytsenko: 2.2% (in February: 2.4%).

Interior state policy (8%), social sphere (9%), and presidential elections (16%) were the most often mentioned as the main and additional news topics in the 1st week of March. Comparing to February, 2019, the share of reportages about the confrontation with corruption as the main and additional news topics increased in twice from 6% to 13%. Among particular events, it was mostly reported on crimes, car accidents, fires (11%; in February: 6%); sport and culture: 10% (in February: 11%); war in the east (7%; in February: 10%), the case with Ukraine’s Defense Industry (6%).

While covering the martial conflict in eastern Ukraine, on behalf of Ukrainian side the highest attention was attracted to the state and its bodies – 14% (in February 2019 – 20%), Defense Forces of Ukraine – 12% (12% in February 2019). On behalf of another party, the attention was paid to Russia and its governing institutions – 7% (12% in February 2019). Minsk agreements were mentioned in 3% of messages, (5% in February 2019), The Normandy format was hardly mentioned (0.3%, in February it was 0.2%). The initiative on involving the UN peacekeeper forces in Donbass was not discussed (In February: 1%).

OPINION BALANCE. 14% of messages in general indicated several points of view (in February 2019 – 20%). Most of them were broadcast by 1+1 (21%); UA: The First (19%); and the least of them were covered by “Ukraiina” TV channel – 6% and ICTV – 6%. The share of political news is mostly covered in a conflict or negative context (51%). The share of broadcast news including multiple opinions while covering scandal and sensitive events is immensely growing; for example, “Anti-vaccine rally” – 100%, “Case of Mr. Manger” – 71%, “Bribe attempt to Yurii Tymoshenko” – 60%., “Mr. Kobolev’s case” – 57%.

Election campaigns of Y. Tymoshenko received 3.2% of all reports (in February: 3.3%); O. Vilkul got 3% of messages (in February: 2.7%); 2.1% went to P. Poroshenko (in February: 2.2%); O. Lyashko had 1.9% (in February: 2%); Y. Boiko took 1.6% (in February: 0.7%). The campaigns of A. Hrytsenko, V. Zelenskyi, V. Nalyvaichenko were actually uncovered (0.2%).

Among the politicians, the most attention is paid to P.Poroshenko is 11% (in February– 9%); Y. Tymoshenko – 6% (in February– 5%); V. Groysman – 5% (in February– 5%); O. Vilkul – 4%; Y. Lutsenko, O. Hladkovskyi, Y. Boiko had 3% each one. Most critical evaluations were given to O. Hladkovskyi (92%); V. Dubil (86%); and N. Kholodnytskyi (75%).

15 out of 17 candidates had direct speech in news. Direct speech of candidates amounts to 4627 seconds (in February: 3342 seconds). The share of P.Poroshenko’s direct speech is 30% (in February: 28 %); O. Lyashko received 19% (in February: 16%); Y. Tymoshenko got 12% (in February: 12 %); O. Vilkul had 11% (in February: 19 %); Y. Boiko took 10% (in February: 11 %); V. Nalyvaichenko – 6%; A. Hrytsenko – 2%; V. Zelenskyi – 2%. Mostly mentioned were program messages of Y. Tymoshenko (2.5%) and O. Vilkul (2.2%).

Channel “Ukraiina” provided direct speech to 9 candidates; Channel 5 gave it to 2 candidates; UA: The First – to 3 candidates. Inter provided the largest share of its direct speech to P. Poroshenko (496 sec.) and Y. Boiko (463 sec.). Channel “Ukraiina” did the same to O. Liashko (852 sec.) and P. Poroshenko (395 sec.). P. Poroshenko and Y. Tymoshenko had 99 sec. each one at ICTV. V. Zelenskyi had direct speech only at 1+1 (80 sec.).

POLITICAL PARTIES AND ACTORS. According to AUP’s monitoring, political parties and movements received the following percentage of news coverage from Ukrainian TV channels in March 2019: the ruling coalition – 35%, democratic opposition – 22%, opposition – 15%, others – 28% (in February: 43%, 25%, 10%, 22% respectively). The highest attention to the opposition is paid by Inter (25%, in February: 17%) and “Ukraiina” (18%, in February: 17%) , and the lowest by Channel 5 (7%) and UA: The First (8%).

Direct speech is distributed as follows: the ruling coalition – 36% democratic opposition – 30%, opposition – 17%, others – 17% (in February: 40%, 24%, 22%, 14% respectively). UA: The First provided more time to the others, non-partisan actors; Channel “Ukraiina” gave the highest share of direct speech to democratic opposition – 52% (in February: 35%)Inter, more than other channels, gave direct speech to the Opposition – 25%  (in February: 37%). Channel 5 preferred the representatives of ruling coalition, giving them 77% of all direct speech (in February: 55%).

The attention to political parties, political figures, political institutions made up 21%, 44%, 72% respectively (in February 2019 – 20%, 41%, 78%). Among the political institutes most often were mentioned the defense departments – 32% (in February 34%), President – 22% (in February 13%), court and the judicial system – 15% (in February 21%).  Doubtful and negative evaluations are most often addressed to the President’s Administration (40%) and the Cabinet of Ministers (36%). Such evaluations are mostly present at Inter (21%) and UA: The First (20%).

The highest attention among the political parties was drawn to P. Poroshenko Bloc – 26% (in February: 25%); Batkivshchyna party received 10% of attention (in February: 6%); Opposition platform – For life (“Opozytsiyna platforma – Za Zhyttya”) took 6% (in February: 5%); The National Front had 6% (in February: 6%); the Radical Party of O. Lyashko got 3% (in February: 10%); Sluha Narodu (Servant of the People) and Hromadianska Posytsia (Civic Position) both received 3%.

The largest share of direct speech received the President and representatives of P. Poroshenko’s Bloc – 31% (in February  – 29%), Radical Party of O. Lyashko – 11% (in February  – 11%), Opposition bloc – Peace and Development Party – 7% (in February  – 10%), Opposition Platform – For Life – 9% (in February  – 8%), Batkivshchyna – 8% (in February  – 6%). Representatives of the Radical Party of O. Lyashko have the largest share of direct speech at “Ukraiina” TV channel – 31% (in February: 24%), the Opposition Platform – For Life had the most direct speech at Inter – 25% (in February: 25%), Opposition bloc – Peace and Development Party got more direct speech at “Ukraiina” TV channel – 16% (in February: 26%), Batkivshchyna at ICTV (21%) and STB (17%); Servant of the People at 1+1 (23%).

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You can find all the detailed information for the above research on the AUP site

The monitoring became possible due to the financial support of the Embassy of the Great Britain in Ukraine as part of the project “Monitoring of Ukrainian TV news during Presidential Election Campaign”, conducted by the Academy of Ukrainian Press. The views expressed in the materials belong to their authors and may not coincide with the official position of the Government of the Great Britain.