Liudmyla Berezovska about UTR restructuring into the modern TV channel UA|TV

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Today, exclusively for Fashion of Diplomacy, Liudmyla Berezovska, CEO of the “International Broadcasting Multimedia Platform of Ukraine”, tells about UTR restructuring into the modern TV channel UA|TV, announcing unbiased, relevant and interesting information about Ukraine to the world.

Ukrainian international broadcasting started functioning in relation to events in the Crimea and East of Ukraine in 2014 or the creation of such a channel was planned even earlier?

– In fact, Ukrainian international broadcasting existed before. In 2004, by Presidential Decree and the decision of the NSDC (National Security and Defense Council) of Ukraine, STRBC (State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company) “UTR”, which was under the supervision of the State Committee for Television and Radio-Broadcasting of Ukraine, was created. Its target audience was the Ukrainian diaspora. Accordingly, the broadcasting of the “UTR” channel was carried out in Ukrainian with a few hours of “highlights” in English.

The annexation of the Crimea in 2014, further bloody events in the Donbas and Russia’s info-war against Ukraine, revealed the Ukrainian international broadcasting low efficiency. On the one hand, it became apparent that Ukraine as a State loses the info-war to the aggressor country, spending a great deal of money on anti-Ukrainian propaganda, both in Ukraine and throughout the world. On the other hand, the Ukrainian diaspora, which was the target audience of the UTR, had and still has the opportunity to watch, in fact, all the national TV channels of Ukraine online only having access to the Internet. In other words, modern technologies enable Ukrainians living abroad to have information and cultural relations with their homeland, wherever they are.

The restart of Ukrainian international broadcasting TV channel was obvious. Around mid-August 2015, the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine asked me to help the UTR team in this process.

Liudmyla Berezovska about UTR restructuring into the modern TV channel UA|TVThe experience of Germany and Germany’s international broadcaster “Deutsche Welle”, operating under a separate law (Act), passed by the Bundestag as early as 1960, was taken as the basis. It is recalled that during intensive consultations on the future format of Ukraine’s international broadcaster, German partners warned us: “Do not repeat our mistakes!” “What are the mistakes?”, we wondered. “Half a century ago, we believed that the target audience of “Deutsche Welle” was the German diaspora that’s why television and radio broadcasting was carried out only in German… Decades have passed until we understood our biggest mistake was in the choice of language.”

When we asked advice what language or languages are the most appropriate solution for us, German colleagues shocked us: “Speak to the world in any languages you know except Ukrainian!” Such an advice and a position , as it’s remembered, aroused the misunderstanding (if not the opposition) of some Ukrainian parliamentarians at that time… Nevertheless, on December 8, 2015, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law Deutsche Welle Act in Ukraine”, which regulated activities of the newly created international broadcaster, the State Enterprise the “International Broadcasting Multimedia Platform of Ukraine” (IBMP), in particular, on the topic of languages: “IBMP programs are produced in English as well as in other languages, depending on the feasibility and urgency of using one or another language to achieve the goal of the IBMP”, clarifying that programs made in English should be at least 50% of the entire content in. Nowadays, English is the main language of the UATV channel, and the entire International Broadcasting Multimedia Platform.

We consider the birthday of the UATV channel is on October 1, 2015, when on the “UTR” frequencies instead of a simple, regular, narrative, largely song content of first Ukraine’s international broadcaster, appeared a modern, intense, multilingual, spectacular, rich of 3D graphics and visual effects content under the already familiar logotype “UA”. Said otherwise: the transition from “UTR” to the UATV was evolutionary, but the start of the UATV was a revolutionary one.

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So, it can be argued that today the UATV channel is a carrier that popularizes Ukraine in the world, right?

– You’re right. We are talking about Ukraine, about our achievements and our problems in a calm way, without imposing our point of view upon someone and not humiliate anyone. Thus, we adapt news from Ukraine for a foreign audience. But we have no censors.

“Sieve” for news from Ukraine is our editorsnative speakers of languages, primarily English and Arabic. It happens that the editor of the English version says: “No, American won’t understand this news; law it should be presented in a different way “, or Arabic editor: “This event has a different importance for us than for you, Ukrainians”. Therefore, newscasts in Russian, English, Ukrainian, Arabic and Crimean Tatar are not made on the principle of «copy/paste».

However, Ukraine, and so are we, have to say a lot more to the world! Therefore, in addition to current news (which in fact only takes 10 minutes each hour), our program is dominated by a new rethinking of Ukraine’s history, culture, traditions, and fashion, about tourism and traditional cuisine, about our contemporaries and about those thanks to whom now we are proudly called Ukrainians.

But again, I repeat, we just show today’s Ukraine and Ukrainians the way we are. If somewhere in some country the viewer watches the UATV channel online or our content in social networks, then they understand that Ukraine is a European, democratic, friendly, attractive country and it is worth seeing with their own eyes, so it means our eff orts are not in vain.

From your answer, I realized that the TV channel is broadcasting in the English, Arabic, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages. That’s all? Are there any other languages of translation and broadcasting?

– UATV fully meets the requirements of the Law “On the system of international broadcasting in Ukraine”: 50% of TV channel content produced in English. Around 40% is Russian-language content. The remaining 10% are programs in the Ukrainian, Arabic and Crimean Tatar languages.

By the way, the Ukrainian-language unit is broadcasted late at night in Kyiv, but in the evening prime time in the USA and Canada, so, contacts with Ukrainian Diaspora, at least in the New World, are maintained.

Content for social networks is produced by the same five languages. After the premiere broadcast, UATV programs are uploaded and become available on official UATV monolingual channels on YouTube.

The main way of transmitting the online TV channel UATV is the satellite. Currently, Ukraine’s international broadcaster, according to the relevant licensing, is being rebroadcasted in Europe from the satellite “HotBird 13C”, in North America from “Galaxy 19”, in Asia and Australia from “Asiasat 5”, in North Africa and the Middle East from “Eutelsat 3WA”.

The recent incorporation into the cable networks of Turkey (end of April this year) became possible thanks to the higher uploading of the UATV signal from the satellite “Turksat 3A”.

The UATV signal is also delivered to specific cable networks over the IP. Such a delivery has been established with partners in the US, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic, etc. Besides online broadcasting, the IBMP is a participant of several international news exchange platforms, primarily AVN (The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union with headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and BRNA (CCTV with headquarters in Beijing, China).

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Liudmyla Berezovska about UTR restructuring into the modern TV channel UA|TVThe news exchange (it is above all about the direct distribution of news stories from Ukraine and about Ukraine to the participants of these platforms) is also one of the strategic directions of the IBMP activity. In the case of highly regulated countries where UATV broadcasting in cable networks is impossible today (for example, China, India, Kazakhstan, etc.), our stories that fall into the news releases of the respective Chinese, Indian or Kazakh TV channels are currently the only way to convey information to the local viewer from and about Ukraine.

Let us mention that the Law “On the system of international broadcasting” prohibits the UATV broadcasting in cable networks of Ukraine (by the way, such a requirement is also prescribed in the Deutsche Welle Act in Germany). But there is a significant exception: the UATV can be broadcasted for “the audience in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories, the territories where the state of emergency and martial law have been proclaimed, and also in the areas of counter-terrorism operations and in spheres of arrangement implementation to ensure National Security and Defense.” This is about Donetsk and Luhansk region, as well as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. In this issue, Russian-language news, Russian-language programs of UATV (we are broadcasting more Russian language than other Ukrainian national TV channels) provide connections between Russian-speaking Ukrainians who are under occupation and Ukraine. According to the relevant licenses, UATV is broadcasting to the occupied territory of Donetsk, Luhansk regions and the ARC with the aid of analog and digital transmitters located in Volnovakha city, Hirnyk city of the Donetsk region; Bakhmutivka city of Luhansk region; Chonhar city of Kherson region.

Broadcasting from the transmitters in Pokrovsk (Donetsk region) and the cities of Skadovsk and Chaplynka (Kherson region) will start soon.

Can we talk about competition with Russian International Broadcasting media means?

– With Russian MM we only share the object of interest which is Ukraine. Only Kremlinfriendly media try to form in their viewers hate and disregard for Ukraine without disdaining such methods as insane distortions and lies. We are those who inform the world about Ukraine, we want to show the truth of the situation and we want to show Ukraine just the way we know it and love it.

The Ukrainian diaspora living abroad is your target audience? What countries watch you the most?

– Not only the diaspora, which is very interested in our content but foreigners who are interested in obtaining direct information (without intermediaries) about and from Ukraine, are our target audience.

For more than three years, the UATV news format has been modified and expanded: today, the foreign viewer in our news can see the story of events in his country because we are talking about the news of Europe and the world, but news from Ukraine and news related to Ukraine are above all.

Speaking about the presence of UATV in cable networks, two months ago, Poland was the largest audience for Ukraine’s international broadcaster and here we are available to DTH, IPTV platforms, and classic cable television subscribers. However, in the last days of April this year UATV entered the telemarketers of Turkey by signing an agreement with “Türksat” company, the largest provider of satellite and cable television which services are used by more than 70% of households in Turkey.

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In late 2018, the UATV audience increased dramatically with the start of broadcasting from the new satellite “Eutelsat 7WA”, the beam of which covers the countries of the predominantly Arab world in northern Africa in the Middle East. You would probably be laughing, but right after the start we received very unexpected feedback from this region, we were “overwhelmed” by CVs of journalists from Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, etc. (written mostly in Arabic!) with a proposal to be UATV correspondents.

In summary… In 2015, it was quite difficult for us to “drill windows” to the world. It happened that negotiations with foreign cable networks could last for years. However, water dripping day by day wears the hardest rock away. One of the biggest events this year was the emergence of UATV in the Republic of Belarus. It culminated in 4-year negotiations between Kyiv and Minsk.

Today, the UATV is available to subscribers of more than 20 cable networks of our northern neighbor.

Undoubtedly, there are still many gaps to fill, there are countries where the legislation on foreign broadcasters is highly regulated, but examples of such seemingly exotic countries like Indonesia or Kyrgyzstan, or Nepal, where UATV is available to local audiences, provide an idea (let me paraphrase original text a bit): “There’s a time and place in the sun for every… country” (smiles).

Liudmyla Berezovska about UTR restructuring into the modern TV channel UA|TV

Is it hard to be a woman supervising this project? Today it is a very responsible mission to manage a carrier that is in charge of conveying credible information about Ukraine worldwide.

– It was difficult at the beginning, at the moment of launching the project. Because, after changing the target audience, it was really important for us to “drill the windows” to the television markets of even the neighboring countries. When we gradually received the result (it remained mostly unnoticed by the Ukrainian audience), it has taken my breath away sometimes. We couldn’t believe we did that! It only gives strength and confidence that we are moving in the right direction. Therefore, the question of strength and self-confidence was solved somehow automatically: when you do what you know and what you love, and it brings you incredible pleasure because you feel that it is in demand in the world (this might sound immodest), gender is irrelevant.

How many people do you have in your office?

– Currently, there are more than 350 people…

Do you have enough time for your family, with such responsible work and so many tasks?

– I have a small family: son is 19 years old, he is quite a self-sufficient person. I spend little time on household chores. I should count myself as lucky in this respect. I cook rarely, but those who have tasted, say that it’s delicious.

What is your favorite dish?

– I like something that I can cook very well. In my case, it is a borshch (traditional Ukrainian dish which is a type of liquid food made by cooking vegetables, meat, etc. with water, where the main product is beetroot). I also like pancakes cooked by my son. This, incidentally, is also a partial answer to the question about family.

What would you like to wish our readers and all Ukrainians abroad?

– Peace. This is what I want for both readers and Ukrainians including all the people on the planet.