Why a national language needs TV promotion

Thirty-six short advertising videos are to be produced in Ukraine to promote usage of the national language. More than half of Ukraine's population speaks Russian regularly and one third say it's their native tongue.

Despite the fact Ukraine has been an independent country since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a lot of people there, both Russian and Ukrainian, still speak the Russian language.

According to Ukraine’s Culture Minister Vasily Vovkun, the main goal of the campaign ‘Our language’, launched by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, is to promote the Ukrainian language in the information sphere and make it more popular among the country’s citizens.
 
The clips will feature people of different social levels, age, gender and education, but united in their ‘positive view on life and love for their native tongue’.

The first video of the series has already been presented and shown in half of the Ukrainian regions, as it was broadcast by three of the country’s channels. A girl of about 10 years old says to the camera: ‘I love my native language, because it’s beautiful, expressive. I’m Ukrainian!’

It’s planned that the clip will be on air till the beginning of 2009. The short video has been sent to 41 channels, both national and regional Ukrainian stations, with the suggestion to put it on air. All in all, 24 videos out of 36 are ready for broadcast at the moment.

However, the money allocated for production of the 36 videos is 490,000 hryvnia (Ukraine’s national currency), which is around US$97,000, so the budget of each advertisement is only around US$2,700.

It has also been reported that a special National Committee on Language Politics will be created next year and will work with all the country’s ministries, dealing with cultural issues. In the course of time it is supposed the committee will have its departments in all of Ukraine’s ministries.

The question of whether the Russian language should be made Ukraine’s second official one is still being debated. The President’s supporters blame the country’s Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko for promoting this idea.

Meanwhile, since the beginning of November, three Russian TV channels have been banned from broadcasting in Ukraine. The country's authorities ordered local cable operators to take them off air.

Operators said the ban came into effect after the National Council on TV and Radio Broadcasting warned that all foreign channels must comply with Ukrainian law or face being taken off air.

However, it seems that both the management of the Russian channels and Ukrainian cable companies don’t understand what this adaptation is all about. Without giving detailed explanations, the council said that the named broadcasters had violated several laws regarding advertising, copyright and ethical norms.