Declaration of Cooperation on Introducing Public Broadcasting in Ukraine signed
The Declaration was signed on 15 March by Andriy Shevchenko, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information, Taras Petriv, Chair of the National Commission for the Affirmation of Freedom of Speech and the Development of Information under the President of Ukraine, Edward Prutnik, Head of the State Committee on Television and Radio Broadcasting and Vitaly Shevchenko, Head of the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting.
All those signing expressed enthusiasm and conviction that an important step had been made towards establishing public broadcasting.
According to the document, within a week a working group made up of 12-15 people is to be created. This will be directly responsible for preparing a package of proposals on transforming state television and radio broadcasting organizations into public broadcasting organizations.
As far as the relative duties were concerned, Edward Prutnik said that the legislative side of things would probably be dealt with by the State Committee on Television and Radio Broadcasting and the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information; the State Committee and the National Council would be responsible for financing, while the National Council would also deal with introducing this into the state register, licensing, looking for and receiving frequencies. Taras Petriv added that the National Commission had enormous staffing potential.
It was stressed during the signing ceremony that the transfer to public broadcasting would be carried out in a transparent fashion. Edward Prutnik said that he was against political control over public broadcasting. When asked why he had spoken out against public councils attached to the Ukrainian National Television Company and the Ukrainian National Radio Broadcasting Company, Mr Prutnik said that he was not against the councils themselves, but against the membership which had only four representatives of the public with all the rest being politicians. He did not believe the vote on these Councils next week would result in anything.
When asked by journalists how public broadcasting would be funded, Andriy Shevchenko said that the working group would be considering this. At present there were several options from world practice: subscription payments, a fixed percentage from the budget, a fixed percent from profit tax and others. Edward Prutnik stated that according to a survey, 44% were against paying anything for this service because they have no idea what public broadcasting really is.
It is planned that expert opinions will be sought on proposals for public broadcasting from the Council of Europe and civic organizations.