“Stop Censorship!”: Public Broadcasting Concept needs Specification
In the Resolution from the 2 September public hearings initiated by “Stop Censorship” to discuss the Concept Framework for Public Broadcasting drawn up by the President’s Humanitarian Council, the wish declared by the government to support the process of creating public broadcasting in Ukraine was viewed as a positive step. At the same time, the participants point out the following:
“The proposed concept is not sufficiently detailed and does not make it possible to evaluate the effectiveness of the procedures and guarantees for the functioning of public broadcasting.
For example, Item 5.2 of the Concept which relates to the financing of the Ukrainian National Public Television and Radio Broadcasting Corporation [NPTC] does not contain specific information about what proportion of funding will come from the State Budget, and what from the corporation’s own activities.
Item 6.2 does not provide a comprehensive list of categories of national civic organizations which will delegate members to the NPTC Supervisory Council, while the mechanism for appointing a single candidate to the Supervisory Council from all categories of civic organizations is neither clear nor realistic.
The mechanism for ensuring that members of the Supervisory Council are independent and that there is no conflict of interests is not specified.
Furthermore in the name of the concept there is only the word “creation”, yet from the content it follows that the Concept relates to the further functioning of public broadcasting.
We would stress that in order to create the positive conditions necessary for the functioning of public broadcasting in Ukraine, the Laws on Access to Information, No. 2763, and on Strengthening Safeguards of Freedom of Speech and Countering Censorship, №№ 6447, 6447-1 must be passed.
Bearing in mind the enormous importance of public broadcasting as a component of a democratic state and the above-mentioned comments, the participants in the public hearings decided to:
- Call on the Cabinet of Ministers to continue discussion of the Concept in the regions with the involvement of wide circles of the public and media specialists, members of civic organizations working in the media sphere, in order to make the Concept more specific. The public have the right of access to information regarding the creation, activities, staffing policy, budget, etc of public broadcasting.
- In order to safeguard the priority importance of the development of public TV and radio broadcasting, recommend that the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine carry out a comprehensive study of the situation as regards TV and radio in the country and make the necessary amendments to the Development Plan for TV and Radio in Ukraine.
- Propose that the Cabinet of Ministers take into account previous proposals drawn up with regard to creating norms by nongovernmental organizations and parliament pertaining to public broadcasting, including:
- the draft law considered by the Verkhovna Rada in 2005 (On amendments and supplements to the Law on a System of Public TV and Radio Broadcasting in Ukraine, reg. no. 7539;
- the draft law drawn up in the National Commission for the Affirmation of Freedom of Speech and Development of the Information Sphere (On amendments to the Law on a System of Public TV and Radio Broadcasting in Ukraine, new version);
- Draft Law No. 4198, tabled in the Verkhovna Rada in 2008;
- Draft Principles of Editorial Policy for information editorial officials of public broadcasting as part of a coalition of civic organizations “Public Broadcasting” (supported by the International Renaissance Foundation);
- the public broadcasting concepts chosen by the President’s Secretariat during an open tender in 2005;
- the public broadcasting concept presented by the Centre for Public Media and Internews – Ukraine;
- EU Directives on Audio-Visual Media Services and Council of Europe Recommendations.
The participants in the public hearings consider it unacceptable to create public broadcasting without taking the following into account:
- representation of civic organizations in the supervisory body must be guaranteed;
- the financing model must render impossible any interference by state bodies, even in the case of funding from the State Budget;
- financing must be guaranteed and sufficient to ensure the main programme objectives of public broadcasting;
- the management of public broadcasting must be guaranteed protection from political pressure and other interference.
- the public must be guaranteed access to information about the principles of the work of the public broadcasting agency, its staffing policy and budget.
Kyiv, 2 September 2010