On June 8, 2017 the Members of the Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy registered the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On the Reform of the State and Municipal Printed Mass Media’ on the Improvement of the Mechanism for the Reform of the Printed Media’ No. 6560.
The draft law was developed by the experts of CEDEM, the OSCE, the UAMB and the Human Rights Platform in cooperation with the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting and revised by the Working Group on the Committee on Freedom of Speech with the participation of representatives of these organizations. It aims to eliminate the systemic problems faced by the printed mass media during the reformation process.
The draft law provides for the following amendments:
- Prolongation of the deadline for submitting the labor staff proposals by June 31, 2018. This is necessary in order to provide a “second chance” to the labor staffs that did not have time before March 31, 2016 to take advantage of their priority right to determine the method of reform.
- Recognition of the founder’s failure to take the decision on the reformation of the grounds for appealing to the court with a claim on the forced reorganization or selection of the editorial office i to create a mechanism for influencing the inaction of the founders;
- Introduction of the clear jurisdiction to economic courts in cases of rejection or inappropriate decision-making on reforming, because now the cases of reform are “thrown” between administrative and economic courts;
- Introduction of the possibility of reforming the editorial staff of printed media through a selection to enable the reform of those editorial offices that are structural subdivisions of state or communal bodies;
- Establishing the deadline for concluding an agreement on changing the composition of the founders of the printed mass media (one month from the adoption of the decision on reform). This innovation is proposed as a way to encourage founders not to delay the conclusion of an agreement, which is necessary to complete the last step in reformation, namely, the re-registration of the print mass media;
- Providing the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting with access to the State Register of the printed mass media. The need for such changes has arisen due to the lack of information from this body for making the qualitative monitoring of the dynamics of the reform process.
- Prohibition on changing the balance-holder’s property at the moment of reformation to create guarantees of preservation by editing the property, which as of January 1, 2017 was on its balance sheet.
- Prohibition of dismissal of the editor-in-chief without the consent of the labor staff for the time of reformation for the protection of the editorial staff against arbitrary dismissal.
- Prohibition of legal entities, established by the state and municipal authorities to be the founders of the printed mass media, except for scientific institutions, educational establishments, cultural and health institutions. This rule is intended to prevent from the transfer of the rights of founders of the printed mass media to legal entities subordinated to the state and municipal bodies, which only creates the appearance of reform and depriving them of their influence on the press.
- Adjournment of termination of the certificate on the state registration of publications resolving the dispute about reforming through the court. This change is necessary in order to ensure that, through a lengthy trial, the certificate of the publication seeking to be reformed has not automatically been invalidated, as is the case with all print media that have not completed the reform by January 1, 2018.
Draft law card: http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=61982