The Ukrainian media landscape can be characterized by a number of specific features:
First, the Ukrainian media sphere, especially TV, is dominated by oligarch-owned media. Oligarchs are actively taking part in the political life of the country, thus using the media they own to their own advantage: to push forward messages, which are beneficial for them or their political partners. Since 2014, a number of new independent media have appeared, but they still struggle to find and win their audience. Oligarchic domination, however, does not prevent journalists to enjoy significant levels of independence, to form grassroots associations defending their rights, and to launch independent media. A general democratic ambiance in the country, as well as competition between various oligarchic and political groups, help ensuring freedom of speech and plurality of information. Several media watchdogs ensure that violations of media standards become publicly analyzed and condemned.
Second, although television in 2019 ceased to be the most popular medium in Ukraine and literally a few points gave way to social networks as a channel for obtaining information, it remains very influential. Simultaneously, the highest share of oligarch-owned media is in the TV sphere - this is hardly a coincidence. Social networks do not act as independent media, but rather are a new medium for the distribution of conventional media content. Online media have grown in popularity in the last few years, but the online market is very fragmented - there are few significant players, which outrun all the competitors. At the same time, there is a huge number of “junky” websites with non-transparent editorial boards and owners, who often push through specific messages multiplied in social networks. Print media are the least popular in Ukraine. Many newspapers and journals struggle with budget and outreach as many users opt for online media and television.
Third, the Ukrainian state have been quite active in the media sphere. The government has launched a campaign aimed at strengthening the role of Ukrainian language in media. It foresees the language quotas for TV and radio and quotas for print media are also being discussed. Ukrainian security services also interfere in the media sphere via investigations into media sources with alleged funding from Russia; this does not prevent these media, however, to work in Ukraine.
Fourth, the Ukrainian media landscape is characterized by weak legislature and professional institutions. Laws regulating media sector are broad and, in some cases, absent, not to mention the fact that the majority of them were developed and adopted back in the 1990s and therefore are out of date in the current context. The same could be said about professional institutions, most of which have been established either in Soviet era or based on Soviet practices; these bodies have little to no influence on the media landscape. At the same time, NGOs and watchdogs that have become quite numerous, especially in the wake of the 2014 revolution, seem to be taking the role of obsolete establishments successfully.
Fifth, professional education for journalists is quite accessible, but it has several weak points. One of them is the theoretical rather than the practical vector of education, with only several examples of the contrary. Also, while BA and MA programs are relatively numerous and qualitative, professional development programs seem to be somewhat sporadic. A single standard system of professional development in media sector would be an unequivocal benefit.
Sixth, Ukraine has seen a sustainable growth of telecommunications, although it still lags behind European countries in the level of mobile networks and Internet coverage as well as in terms of market conditions. The major problem of Ukraine in this respect is the absence of innovations as well as the virtual non-existence of its financial and promotional sectors. Ukraine has a number of business incubators and accelerators but they are not focused specifically on communications.
Notwithstanding all challenges, trends in Ukrainian media landscape, especially in post-revolutionary years, promise a sustainable development of the Ukrainian media sector. Gradual implementation of reforms, development of civil society, and active rapprochement with the EU are major factors that provide the Ukrainian media landscape for a successful, though maybe somewhat protracted, transformation.