Much has happened in Ukraine’s electronic communications industry since February 2022.
Set against the backdrop of the invasion by Russia, it includes the closure of one of its leading broadcasters – Media Group Ukraine (MGU) – in July of last year and, more recently, enactment of a new media law in March 2023.
The latter, seen as a prerequisite for Ukraine eventually joining the European Union, has so far had a mixed response. Criticised by some for giving the regulator National Council too many powers, it has been praised by others for containing Russian propaganda.
While it certainly hasn’t been business as usual, there have in recent months been developments in the industry that would be familiar in most countries not at war. Earlier this month, for instance, saw the end of a carriage dispute between Vodafone and 1+1, one of Ukraine’s leading media groups. Vodafone also found itself in the news in August when it acquired Frinet, a company that provides fixed broadband services under the brand name O3.
Meanwhile, the Viasat group of TV channels have recently been re-introduced into the offers of such operators as Kyivstar, Megogo Triolan and Astra TV. This follows their withdrawal earlier this year at the request of the National Council, citing concerns about channels’ ownership links to Russia.
Looking to the future, the global digital operator Veon announced in June that it will invest, through Kyivstar, $600 million in the recovery of Ukraine over the next three years. Other companies will in due course no doubt follow, and with larger sums of money, once the war is over.
Although the industry is clearly managing to survive in highly challenging circumstances, it will probably have to be rebuilt from the bottom up once peace returns. Foreign investment, strong legislation and ultimately EU membership will all have an important role to play.
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