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Progress in Public Service Broadcasting Reform in Ukraine

Over the past few months, there has been much progress made in the sphere of Public Television and Broadcasting reform. Only two years after the law “On Public Broadcasting in Ukraine” was adopted as a framework, the Ukrainian government and civil society organizations have taken steps to create a Public Service Broadcaster. Following this decision, on 07 November 2015, the Cabinet of Ministers decreed that the National Public Television and Radio Company of Ukraine (NSTU) would be a joint-stock company and 100% of the shares would be state-owned. Amendments to this law were adopted on 29 May 2015.It should be noted that in March 2015a decisive law was adopted (draft №1357), which defined the reorganization process and enhanced independence guarantees of the future broadcaster. On 08 August 2015, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted the decree and its amendments in order to join all state and regional broadcasting companies under the National Television Company of Ukraine (NTCU) and to reorganize them into NSTU. The most recent progress occurred on 20 May 2016 when Draft Law №4232 “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine on Public Television and Radio Broadcasting” was sent to the President for signing. 

However, UkrTelefilm has attempted to sabotage the reform process. Currently, all subjects have joined under NTCU except for UkrTelefilm, which has blocked public inspections and access to financial documents. This setback has made it impossible to create a public joint-stock company through the NSTU as of now. In response, on 16 March Members of Parliament registered the draft law №4232On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine on Public Television and Radio Broadcasting” to reform the process for UkrTelefilm’s transformation into a public company.

Under this law, the existing regional state broadcasters will merge to become part of the Public Service Broadcaster. Two of the remaining companies from Crimea are expected to join the reform process with some delay. UkrTelefilm will join the reorganized entity later by procedures provided by a draft law №4232.

Most state television and radio companies are finishing the process of merging under the state broadcaster. Reforms have been finalized in several regional broadcast companies after the adoption of this law. Eleven Regional State Television and Radio Companies (ODTRKs) e.g. of Donetsk, Mykolayiv, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk etc. have been reformed as affiliates of the National Television Company of Ukraine and ceased to be their own legal entities. On 1 January 2016 the Sumy affiliate of the National Television Company of Ukraine began to operate under the logo “UA: Sumy”; it became the first of the regional affiliates to receive the right to use “UA” in their logo. The other companies still have not received these rights because of violations of editorial standards.

Despite UkrTelefilm’s setback, it is important to look towards the next steps in Public Television and Broadcasting Reform, which is to establish a new Public Service Broadcasting Company. The approval of Draft Law № 4232 by the Verkhovna Rada and its delivery to the President are positive steps in this direction.

The merging process of Regional State Television and Radio Companies (ODTRKs) should end as soon as possible. In addition, the work on the charter of the National Television Company of Ukraine should be finalized in order to create a public joint-stock company by the end of this year.

Сompiled by Alexandra Jason for CEDEM.

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