Volhyn Teleradio Company Pursues Technology, Ethics
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Despite talk of the country being an “emerging democracy,” broadcasting in Ukraine does not appear technologically behind the United States based on a tour of Volhyn Teleradio Company in Lutsk, Nov. 29 and 30.

The company, owned by the Ukraine national government, owns 107.3 FM radio and a television station. This state broadcasting station exists in a nether world between commercial broadcasting and American public broadcasting. It accepts broadcasting for its entertainment programming, but cannot by law place advertising inside its news programming. A government subsidy covers remaining expenses.

The station is under the jurisdiction of the State Committee of Television and Radio. Yet the station’s programming is free of censorship from the state. Olga Kulish, vice director of the company, said while politicians cannot tell the station what to do, the politicians would like to do so, but the staff resists.

The radio station hosts state information programming, Voice of America programming, and the BBC during its 24-hour schedule. However, that still leaves 20 hours of local programming each day.

The TV station also has to broadcast 20 hours each day. Part of the programming comes from a government-produced programming syndicate.

There were two commercial TV stations in Lutsk, but one station has folded in this city of 200,000.

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The broadcasting company is spread between three buildings. The radio studios in the main building look like most any one enters across the western world. Everything is computerized. Audio is edited as digital files. The 24/7 programming is computer automated.

A recording studio provides space for on-air performances by musicians.

The state information programming is produced in studios one knew in the 1980s. But for the two hours of content it creates, the analog system works. There are plans to merge everything, including TV, into a single building in which new technology will become the norm.

The TV studio reminds one of any public broadcasting facility—innovation on a shoe string. Kulish said she is proud that her staff invented TV in Lutsk, much in the tradition of Edward R. Murrow. She said they used the internet and books to learn how a TV station operated when they began in 1992, as Ukraine emerged as a free nation.

The single studio has sets at each end and a light grid in the ceiling. The three cameras can swing 180 degrees to record each set. A green screen covers one wall. There are standing sets, too, that can be moved in an out of the space. Make-up is in a curtained-off area in the hall.

The TV control room is analog with a director, an assistant director, a soundman, and a tape machine operator for inserting packages into a live newscast. A similar studio can be seen at Time-Warner Cable studios.

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Audio and Video are captured at digital files. MiniDV is used for location cameras and outputting story packages. Most TV content is edited as digital files on Adobe Create Suite and Canopus, of which Grass Valley owns one-third. However, there is a contingent of reporters who are still more comfortable with analog editing.

The television newscast at 1 p.m. offers one surprise. The standard news package or story is 2 minutes long, not the standard U.S. 30-second headline.

One innovation observed was using basic security camera heads on tripods, but fitting the boxes with top-quality lenses, to create effective studio cameras. As this native Oklahoman said to Kulish, when one works far from the centers of communication, one must be more innovative.

Kulish, vice president of the Volhyn Oblast (state) Press Club, last month headed a press club program to increase ethical standards among local journalists. Bribery is common in Ukraine with the Kiev Post reporting teachers, and journalists, and doctors among the most bribed, along with police. However, bribery was down three percent in 2006 from 2005.

Kulish said her station is careful to label infomercials, such as business news releases, as paid advertising, though other stations across Ukraine may not. The station will produce these infomercials for a fee.

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Found in a city far removed from Kiev and Warsaw and Prague, Lutsk broadcasting could be manned without training by broadcaster from the U.S.

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