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War highlights value of radio for Ukraine’s public broadcaster

Radio and social media have proved to be essential amid the Ukraine war, as broadcasting infrastructure has often been a prime target, an executive at the country’s public broadcaster said during a visit to Tokyo for training by NHK, citing an incident when a television tower in Kyiv was attacked last year.

“In some regions, radio is the sole source of information,” Mykola Chernotytskyi, chairman of the Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (PBC), said Monday. “So, we have allocated resources to ensure the revival of radio broadcasting.”

Chernotytskyi was visiting the NHK Broadcasting Center in Shibuya as part of the first of three training sessions funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan’s aid agency. NHK and the PBC have been collaborating since the latter’s inception in 2017, but this new project will focus on developing emergency reporting systems.

While the PBC had been soley focused on covering essential news at the start of the war, the organization now produces new cultural, historic and investigative content, attracting large audiences. Children’s content is also a big focus for the company, which has also pivoted to producing animated content specifically tailored to the ongoing war.

Speaking to reporters while taking a break from the training, Chernotytskyi reflected on the company’s experience since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February last year.

“There are many areas that have been heavily damaged — consequently, our equipment and facilities are often unavailable,” Chernotytskyi said in Ukrainian through a Japanese interpreter. “The continuous attacks make it difficult to broadcast adequately.”

PBC had roughly 4,000 employees at the start of the war, and this has fallen slightly to 3,900, he said. Eighty-two are currently fighting in the conflict, predominantly as volunteer soldiers.

The PBC and Chernotytskyi feel a sense of responsibility to Ukrainians, especially as a public broadcaster.

“We believe that we must uphold the rights of all citizens and broadcast in accordance with that belief,” Chernotytskyi said.

Moving forward, PBC executives intend to continue learning organizational and operational best practices from Japan, with the goal of strengthening emergency and regional reporting through the training project, Chernotytskyi said, especially as attacks and the spread of propaganda continue to mean that “there is no truly safe place” in Ukraine.

JICA and NHK, which has also supported the PBC in terms of program production and media equipment, said they will continue to offer their assistance to the Ukrainian broadcaster.

“The purpose (of the training) is to learn from the initiatives of Japanese broadcasting stations,” said Chigiru Yamashita, head of JICA’s law and justice team.

“But we believe that Japan can also learn from the experiences of the Ukrainian national broadcasting corporation, which is striving to fight propaganda and strengthen its management organization for recovery and reconstruction under this state of emergency.” Japan Times

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