The Public recommend legislative safeguards against State influence on public broadcasting
Public debate initiated by “Stop Censorship” took place on 2 September aimed at discussing the Concept Framework for Public Broadcasting drawn up by the President’s Humanitarian Council. Recommendations were passed, including the need to legislate safeguards for the public broadcasting channel from influence being brought by the State, even in the case of public funding.
The Humanitarian Council’s Concept Framework was presented by the Head of the Working Group on its creation, the Pro-Rector of the Ukraina University, Valery Bebyk. The discussion was not confined to only Ukrainian specialists, with the Consultant from the Joint EU and Council of Europe Project on Promoting European Standards in the Media, the Head of the BBC World Trust Projects on Transformation of Public Broadcasting in the Balkans, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kyrgystan, a representative from Article 19, member of the Supervisory Council for Georgian Public Broadcasting and others taking part.
The main conclusion reached was that any concept framework for the creation of public broadcasting in Ukraine is unacceptable without key conditions for ensuring independence:
- in financing
- in staffing decisions
- in editorial policy.
During the discussion, National Deputy (BYuT) Andriy Shevchenko pointed out that with all relating to the concept of public broadcasting, “one needs to appeal not only to the President, but to the Cabinet of Ministers, the Verkhovna Rada and all who are involved in this process”.
National Deputy Iryna Herashchenko proposed that while there is no law on public broadcasting, it is worth proposing that the Verkhovna Rada pass a package of media laws, including on access to information, as well as strengthening through legislation liability for censorship. She added: “I don’t know any country where the President’s Administration creates public television. The State should only create the conditions for it”.
Taras Shevchenko, Director of the Media Law Institute informs that Anna Herman, Deputy Head of the President’s Administration, has been sent a letter with proposals and comments on the Concept Framework for Public Broadcasting drawn up by the President’s Humanitarian Council. “We will be following whether our proposals are taken into consideration.”
After the discussion, Mr Bebyk, Head of the Working Group within the Humanitarian Council, promised that all proposals would be taken into account. He said that virtually all of them which apply to “financing, staffing policy, programme policy are completely in line with the views of the working group”.
Andriy Shevchenko also proposed adding to the list of norm-creating documents the Recommendations of the Council of Europe and international organizations on Public Broadcasting; Draft Law No. 41-98 registered in parliament in 2008 (it received 202 votes, needing 226 to be passed); the concept framework for Public Broadcasting chosen by the President’s Secretariat during an open tender in 2005; and the concept framework for Public Broadcasting presented by the Centre for Public Media and Internews Ukraine in 2006.