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Authorities replace owners as greatest threat to media in 2010, says IMI

(IMI/IFEX) - 19 April 2010 - Newly elected authorities who believe that mass media should be taken under their control are the greatest threat to the media in 2010. Such was the conclusion arrived at by several experts at a round table entitled: "From Mass Media 2009 to Mass Media 2010: Chronic Diseases and New Epidemics".

"If in 2009 the main problem was "jeansa" (pre-paid articles), today Ukraine has other challenges, and an essential one is the eventual monopolization of the media by a single political force," said IMI director Victoria Sumar.

Another big challenge in 2010 is likely to be access to information, says Sumar.

"We are aware that Victor Yanukovich has given no press conferences since being elected head of state. This gives the impression that he is thoroughly shielded from communicating with the press," Sumar added.

Another expert, Diana Dutsyk, editor-in-chief of "Glavred"'s online edition, said, "Responsibility for this state of affairs rests with previous authorities, because they failed to create the conditions that would ensure that advances in the field of press freedom could not be clawed back. Dutsyk added: "Some investors believe that mass media is not a a tool to manipulate public opinion, but rather a business making venture. No such foreign investors have come here."

The experts also released their "democratic barometer" for the Ukraine, which measures the democracy level for the country; it was given a reading of 2.9 points for 2009. But Irina Bekeshkina, research director of the Foundation of Democratic Initiatives, felt the reading should have been much lower. "Experts failed to take into account the eventuality of an important deterioration of the situation in 2010. Viewing actual trends, one should have recourse to a minus scale."

The round table was organized on 16 April by IMI in collaboration with the Foundation of Democratic Initiatives.

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