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Media Lawyer: MPs not concerned about protecting the media

08.02.2012    source:

According to media lawyers, a mere ban on planned media outlet checks during the elections will not stop unscheduled checks and will in no way protect the media from pressure by the authorities.

Oleksandr Dyachenko, lawyer for the Association of Periodical Press Publishers, calls the draft parliamentary resolution on banning media checks during the election campaign the necessary minimum for the normal work of the media during that time.  The document should be passed next week. However Dyachenko notes that many authorities are not guided by the actual resolution, but by instructions from their management. How those instructions will be put “depends on the creativity” of those in power.

Taras Shevchenko, Director of the Media Law Institute, stresses that checks of media outlets during the elections should be banned by law, and not passed each time through parliamentary resolutions before the elections.  He noted that MPs had rejected several draft laws, and were now “trying to please journalists”. However, unlike laws, a parliamentary resolution is of a recommendatory nature and not mandatory. And that is when there is a new electoral law which is not supportive of the media. According to this new law media outlets can be closed altogether for “flagrant violations” which are not defined in law and will be determined at judges’ discretion.

Because of this, Taras Shevchenko says, regulation of press activities during the elections is like a vicious circle. “If you make politicians responsible, they’ll begin to remove opposition politicians’ registration for “infringements” of the rules for electoral campaigns. If the media, they’ll close them purely because of their loyalty to the opposition, on trumped up grounds”.

Oleksandr Dyachenko believes that the situation is exacerbated by the failure to implement and arbitrary interpretation of existing laws. It is this, he is convinced, that is the cause of the ever increasing pressure on the media. He says that this results in media outlets more and more frequently refusing to publish electoral campaigning and preferring to not earn money on political advertising. “The media is business and there need to be very serious grounds for refusing to earn money on election advertising”, he says.

Oleksandr Savytsky, , 15708369, 00.html

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