Welcome to The Fix’s weekly news digest! Every week, we bring you important news stories from the world of media – and try to put them in a wider context.
As the war in Ukraine is raging, the count of journalist casualties is increasing.
Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius, prominent for his reporting from war areas, was killed late last week. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, he was killed by Russian soldiers while trying to leave besieged Mariupol (Eastern Ukraine).
Photographer Maks Levin was also confirmed dead last weekend, after going missing for a few weeks. He was killed in the Kyiv region by Russian military forces, with two gunshot wounds to the head.
Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Khilyuk is still held by Russian forces, despite the Kyiv region where he was detained, being liberated by the Ukrainian army. At least two other journalists are in Russian detention – Oleksandr Gunko and Iryna Dubchenko.
Early this week, three Ukrainian TV channels were disconnected from digital broadcasting – Espresso, 5 Kanal (Channel 5) and Pryamiy kanal (“Direct” channel).
Within a few days after the disconnection, it was not clear who was ultimately responsible for the disconnection and what was the official reason. The channels blame state company “Broadcasting, Radiocommunications & Television Concern” for violating the law in taking this decision and say they haven’t received a warning before the disconnection or a response afterwards.
The channels affected appealed to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to get involved. The disconnection has been criticised by other journalists and activists, such as the Commission for Journalism Ethics NGO and head of the Anti-Corruption Action Center Vitaliy Shabunin.
All channels have been known to be critical of the current government before the war. Channel 5 and Pryamiy until recently belonged to the former president and current opposition leader Petro Poroshenko. At the same time, since the Russian invasion criticism of the authorities has been voluntarily muted, with media managers stressing the importance of national unity and a united news agenda.
The UK government has decided to move forward with plans to privatise Channel 4.
A publicly owned TV station created under Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1982, Channel 4 is financed by advertising and has traditionally focused on creating programming for underserved audiences.
The government believes public ownership holds the channel back from competing with streaming giants like Netflix. At the same time, Channel 4 itself opposes privatisation, believing that the public ownership model serves its need better.
As The Guardian notes, “the channel is run on a commercial basis and carries adverts but reinvests all of its profits into making new programmes. Its current leadership has argued that a new private sector owner would instead seek to maximise profits at the expense of original and distinctively British programming”
Privatisation still has to be approved by the parliament, and a lengthy process is ahead. The opposition Labour Party criticised the move, as did numerous prominent media figures.