More Severe Quota Limits Needed for Political Advertisement and Plugola Stop, – Media Experts Say

December 22, 2014

Elections reform is includedinto new Parliament’s Coalition Treaty. Today Media Law Institute held anexpert discussion “Mass media activityduring elections: minutes for the new parliament” that concerned changesthat have to be made in mass media activity during elections.

Taras Shevchenko, Media Law Institute’sDirector, stressed on necessity of full ban of political advertisement inUkraine. “Political advertisement demandsto raise huge budgets what makes parties dependent from oligarch financing; it decreasesquality of political discussion; parties are sold as chocolate or vodka; itcreates inequality of candidates in access to mass media; it gives possibilityto parties to pass to the Parliament using only marketing steps”, – hestated.

Political advertisement isfully banned in many countries, especially in western European countries,including France, Denmark, Great Britain, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland andothers. Current political advertisement quota limits’ in Ukraine are imperfect,expert says. Quota limit is very easy to skip.

Taking into consideration thatfull ban of political advertisement in Ukraine is hardly possible in Ukrainenow, Media Law Institute proposes a compromisescheme “2:30 X 10”. According tothis scheme, one political party can purchase only one block that lasts for 2min 30 sec on one television channel during the day. There has to be no morethan 10 such blocks during whole election process. Number of additionallimiting circumstances is also proposed. For example, majority candidates donot have the right to purchase broadcasting time and during politicaladvertisement broadcasting, parties’ candidates’ images and voices have to bebroadcasted during 90% of broadcasting time. Taras Shevchenko underlined thatnumbers can differ. The main thing is the model of time quota limits that oneparty purchases on one channel.

Plugola was named as one ofthe biggest problems of pre-election races what arise in connection with massmedia. Yuriy Klyuchkovskyunderlined: “Plugola” – is an abuse ofofficial position of a person who has the right to access to mass media. Itmeans that Art. 364 of Criminal Code applies to respectful persons fromeditorial office. What depends on democracy during elections has seriousconsequences”. Also he added: “In itsmeaning plugola is a corruptive phenomenon. “Plugola” during elections is acrime”.

Media lawyers, members ofParliament, journalists and civic activists took part in expert discussion. Pavlo Moiseev, Director on legalquestions of “Internews”, YuriyKlyuchkovsky, President of Elections Law Institute, Aly Safarov, media lawyer, OlexanderChernenko, member of Parliament, OksanaNesterenko, expert of Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and othersexpressed their position.

Elections Code adoption could change the system and providelegislation’s stability. In case Elections Code is not adopted in 2015, itwould be a state power’s will to preserve the system. As a document, it has tobe adopted because one of the main questions that lead to the discussion was thequestion of elections”, PavloMoiseev stated.