Public broadcasters organisation the EBU has expressed concern about proposed changes to Ukraine’s public media law that it believes would threaten the independence of public service media in the country, and urged the Ukrainian parliament to reject the planned amendments.
According to the EBU, the planned amendment would oblige public broadcaster UA:PBC to provide 20 minutes per month of free airtime to all members of the Ukrainian parliament alongside other currently undefined requirements to provide coverage of the activities of state bodies and officials.
Currently, UA:PBC has discretion to choose what activities to cover.
According to the EBU, the proposed changes run contrary to international standards on the independence of public service media set out by the Council of Europe and by the EBU itself.
The organization cited the Council of Europe’s stipulation that “the legal framework governing public service broadcasting organisations should clearly stipulate their editorial independence and institutional autonomy, especially in areas such as…the editing and presentation of news and current affairs programmes.”
The Council of Europe also makes it clear that any requirement to broadcast official communications or to grant airtime to the authorities “should be confined to exceptional circumstances expressly laid down in laws or regulations.”
Last year, the EBU experessed concern about the underfunding of UA:PBC under its financial settlement for 2018. The Ukrianian 2018 budget envisaged providing only about half of the budget previously defined by the country’s law on public television and radio broadcasting.
The EBU was closely involved in the creation of UA:PBC, which was created through the merger of a number of predecessor organisations.