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Public Broadcasting in Ukraine: What Does it Take to Break Decades of Inertia and an Avalanche of Resistance?

On March 25, 2014 Zurab Alasania became the newly appointed Head of NTKU (National TV Company of Ukraine) and faced the challenges of creating a public broadcasting institution. It was a period in Ukrainian history when the Revolution of Dignity had just taken place, the Crimea had been annexed, and the situation in the country was very unstable. Parliament announced presidential elections for May of 2014. The creation of an independent public broadcaster had been mandated by the Council of Europe but had stalled for 10 years. There was an unsuccessful attempt to reform NTKU into PSB in 2005 and now a new window of opportunity had appeared. The former President’s administration prepared a draft law based on the concept of transforming the National Television Company of Ukraine (NTKU) and put it before Parliament. NTKU was the only provider of broadcasting on 100% of territory in Ukraine and was affiliated with 32 state-owned regional TV companies across Ukraine. There was high pressure from civil society for independent media, since oligarchs owned all current commercial media and there was a clear understanding of how they worked in Ukraine due to previous experience. This case will enable the class to explore who are the major players and how they can influence reforms in the short and long run.

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