The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

"The End, at Least Temporarily, of Privately Owned Ukrainian [TV] Outlets"


Reuters reported yesterday:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has signed a decree that combines all national TV channels into one platform, citing the importance of a "unified information policy" under martial law, his office said in a statement on Sunday.

Deadline (Bruce Haring) wrote:

The move means the end, at least temporarily, of privately owned Ukrainian media outlets in that country. Zelensky claimed the measure is needed to combat alleged Russian misinformation and "tell the truth about the war."

NEXT: Twitter Suspends Satire Site Babylon Bee for Tweet, "The Babylon Bee's Man of the Year is Rachel Levine"

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  1. "There was fifty-seven channels and nothin' on." -- Bruce Springsteen

  2. Ahh, yes. The fight for freedom continues.

  3. Doesn't sound like such a great guy.

    1. He is not. But the other guy is worse, bigger and more dangerous.

    2. I’m not saying it was the right call, but during an invasion, victory is the highest priority. If suspending independent media helps win the war (again, I don’t know if it will), then independent media will be better off, since we all know what happens to independent voices under the Russian regime.

  4. If you're in the middle of an existential war to preserve the continued existence of your country, you should act accordingly.

    1. Like the UK in WWII? (see below)

      1. I'm not sure which comment you're referring to, but the UK had massive censorship during WWII.

        1. Yes, but not turning the newspapers into one giant print version of the BBC.

          1. The UK didn't have nearly the same extent of enemy infiltration into its media landscape.

            They also didn't have enemy troops on their soil.

            I'm not sure if this move is justified or wise, but the situation is much more extreme than what the UK faced in WWII.

            1. "enemy troops on their soil"

              No, they were in the air.

              1. Which is very different than on the ground.

    2. Yes, by consolidating all power in yourself and your cronies.

      1. "consolidating all power in yourself and your cronies"

        Plenty of time to remedy that AFTER the war.

    3. Accordingly should involve principles, or it is unprincipled. That should be obvious to anyone not in thrall to State Power.

      1. You don't think putting the survival of the state as an independent entity first is a principle?

        1. Hitler, Stain, and Mao had the same principles. Great company you've selected.

          That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it

    4. Seems unnecessary unless you have a hard on for authoritarianism for its own sake. Even in uninvolved countries you have solid anti Russian support. Are there a raft of stations undermining the war effort?

      I take it you were also in favor of the Japanese internment camps?

  5. Preview for the rest of the West. "Unified information policy" will be critical to fight Climate Change Covid Russian war, Covid again, then Climate Change again.

    1. Eastasia, General; don't forget Eastasia.

  6. So...*all* the privately owned TV stations were broadcasting Russian propaganda?

    The U. S. in the Civil War didn't nationalize newspapers. the UK during WWII didn't nationalize newspapers - I don't think even the Labour Party was into that sort of thing.

    What, specifically, are they worried the independent TV stations would say?

    1. The US may not have nationalized newspapers during the Civil War but there were newspaper publishers who went to jail.

      1. Based on what Lincoln, case by case, considered to be seditious publication. He made distinctions.

        1. You mean he had no principles.

          1. If he had no principles he'd be Stephen Douglas.

          2. You may not agree with his decisions or his principles, but he had them, and considered his actions carefully. This attempt to remodel Lincoln as a power-hungry statist is errant nonsense. You must be an originalist, engaging in that kind of crap historical analysis.

      2. John Adams sent a few to jail too, without war as an excuse. Statists have no principles, even the ones they helped write down.

        1. Again, I'm not defending these sorts of things, I'm saying Adams and Lincoln didn't go to the extent of fusing all the private newspapers in the country into one government news sheet.

          1. It's worse when we do it because we hold ourselves out as this great bastion of freedom that respects free speech. When Putin, or China, or Turkey, take control of the media, well, we sort of expect that from the likes of Putin. We understand it from Zelensky because it's a temporary situation in the middle of a war for survival; in normal times, Ukraine does have a free press.

            It's the same dynamic as when a family values candidate is caught screwing a 16 year old. Screwing a 16 year old is wrong, but the hypocrisy factor makes it worse.

            1. "We understand it from Zelensky because it's a temporary situation in the middle of a war for survival; in normal times, Ukraine does have a free press."

              Well, it's hard to figure out in the fog of war, but what does a govt TV monopoly accomplish which couldn't be done by (say) taking a leaf from Lincoln's book and closing some "seditious" stations?

              Time will tell if they're thinking about trying to hide something which might have otherwise come out, even from a "loyal" independent station.

              1. "Time will tell if they're thinking about trying to hide something which might have otherwise come out, even from a "loyal" independent station."

                In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies. Winston Churchill

              2. Probably a question of responsiveness and options.

                Imprisoning journalists means journalists are guessing at what the line they can't cross is. And you have to go through the legal system which takes time you might not have in a war moving this quickly.

                Owning the station means you can just issue order or fire the bad actors.

                Big question is how they actually implement it. If they're just handing down scripts from on top that's probably a bad thing.

                However, if they're just giving themselves a short-term method for shutting down Russian propagandists that's probably a good thing. It's arguable less onerous towards long term free-speech norms since you aren't actually throwing people in jail, and the enforcement mechanism goes away when the war is done.

          2. You're right. Although Lincoln would have, if he could.

            1. Lost Causer angry at hypothetical Lincoln.

        2. "John Adams sent a few to jail too, without war as an excuse. Statists have no principles, even the ones they helped write down."

          John Adams "sent a few to jail" because he was authorized and empowered to do so by an act of Congress. There have been few American statesmen who were more principled than John Adams. Again, you confuse having no principles with acting in ways with which you disagree.

        3. Alphabet, if you think Adams is unprincipled...I mean, check out slavery and the Founders.

          Separately, if you think he's a statist, do you think think all the Founders but Jefferson are statists? It kinda seems like you don't like most of the Founders...

  7. Maybe without a national information policy, some sketchy politician could launch his career through a TV show.

  8. A jewish comedian on puppet strings to the pals of Victoria Nuland and Antoni Blinken pushing the new world order agenda against Ukrainian national interest, slaughtering his citizens for a private political agenda out of Tel Aviv. Zelenski will be executed as a war criminal.

    1. You're not helping.

    2. You forgot the part about ingredients for matzoh for the upcoming Passover holiday.

      1. not to mention space lasers on the moon

    3. Wait, I thought the Ukrainians were fascists. Now it turns out they are actually Israeli puppets? It's so hard to keep up these days.

  9. Monday Morning Quarterbacking a war . . . . from an ivory tower no less.

    I saw this report too and was concerned while at the same time realizing people are getting blown up.

    Go ahead and do what you got to do to prevent people from getting blown up and deal with the ivory towers later (if at all).

    1. If the ivory tower had been staying aloof from this war and saying let's keep clear of it and avoid pronouncing on it pending better information, that would be a great policy.

      But if the ivory tower (among others) are beating the war drums and publicizing facts (or purported facts) which put the Ukrainians in a good light, then balancing that out with reports of whoops, what's Zelensky doing, seems only fair.

    2. Monday morning quarterbacking? The biggest history lesson is don't give leaders emergency powers as they never give them up..

      George Lucas even used that as the central intrigue in the prequels.

      Time will tell. But if Ukraine remains, and never returns the press to freedom, well, by then it is too late, which is the point history is trying to make.

    3. What's the benefit to the war effort supposed to be?

  10. I thought the Russians blew up all the transmitters already - - - - - -

  11. US had military censorship in World War II. Freedom survived.

    1. It survived *that.*

      But Ukraine is doing a bit more - not simply telling the private TV stations what they can report from the battlefield, but "combin[ing] all national TV channels into one platform, citing the importance of a 'unified information policy' under martial law."

      Has Ukraine got any "loyal" stations? What does the government have to fear from *them* that it wants to replace them? Maybe they want an official station which won't talk too much about, say, shady war contracts or battle losses or...who knows, at least they have to censor by govt edict that which the legacy media seems to censor for free.

      1. They are in a fight for their very existence.

        1. Against loyal independent broadcasters?

  12. Can somebody explain to Zelensky that this kills the credibility of official broadcasts? Who will trust a channel that knows it has a monopoly on broadcasting?

    1. 206 million on twitter
      2.9 billion on facebook

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