Ukraine: New draft Bill Risks Interfering with the Editorial Policy of the Public Service Media

Update: 22 Feb 2018 Resolved
Year 07 Feb 2018 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EBU , Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
07 Feb 2018 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EBU , Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is scheduled to discuss a draft Law No. 7395 "On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine Regarding the Procedure for Informing on the Activities of the Authorities or Public Officials”. One of the proposed provisions in the draft Law reads “Members of Parliament of Ukraine shall have the right to have their representative activities covered by the public joint-stock company “National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine” (UA:PBC) according to the procedure established by the UA:PBC in a programme which lasts as least 25 minutes. The MPs activity shall be covered by a corresponding separate structural subdivision of UA:PBC. The right to have their activities covered shall be held by the MPs elected in a single-member constituency or in a national multi-member constituency and assigned to a certain region of Ukraine by a parliamentary faction (group). UA:PBC shall cover the activities of MPs of Ukraine exclusively in the manner prescribed by this Law”. The above mentioned provision in the draft Law prescribing how the public broadcaster should cover the activities of MPs risks interfering with the editorial policy of the public broadcaster. Imposing such an obligation is not in line with international standards for editorial independence of public service media, and in particular CoE Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe No. R (96) 10 on "The Guarantees of Independence of Public Service Broadcasting". According to CoE Rec 1996 (10) on the independence of PSM, under Guideline VI, PSM should be obliged to transmit content, which is not under its editorial control only in exceptional circumstances. “ The cases in which public service broadcasting organizations may be compelled to broadcast official messages, declarations or communications, or to report on the acts or decisions of public authorities, or to grant airtime to such authorities should be confined to exceptional circumstances expressly laid down in laws or regulations”.

Resolved On 22 February 2018, following the withdrawal of the draft bill by the Verkhovna Rada, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be ”resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.

Updates

New 16 Feb 2018 : On 7 February 2018, the draft has been withdrawn.
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