27 November at 10 a.m. at Ukraine Crisis Media Centre the press-briefing took place covering the issue of a newly adopted law On Reforming of State and Municipal Press. What the next steps should be – was discussed by the experts of the Reanimation Package of Reforms Taras Shevchenko (director of Media Law Institute), Svitalana Ostapa (media-expert of NGO “Telekritika”, a member of the Supervisory Council of National Television and Radio Broadcasting) and Roman Holovenko (lawyer of Institute of Mass Information). On 24 November the members of parliament (MPs) voted for adoption of the legislation No1123 On Reforming State and Municipal Print Media. This law will enter into force when signed by the President of Ukraine from 1 January 2016.
“Many representatives of print media were waiting for this law for it provides more opportunities – commented Taras Shevchenko – Media are the fourth power that execute control over other three branches of power. Therefore, it is crucial for this control to be in the private hands, especially in the hands of journalists and creative workers”.
The aim of the law is to eliminate state power from the possibility to influence the editorial policy of press. As underlined by Roman Holovenko “the citizens can expect less apparent glorification of the state power and materials directed by the deputies or the heads of government agencies.”
Moreover, Roman Holovenko dispelled a myth that with this law the state would lose one of its instrument to counter the information war. However, local publications have never been such an instrument, for they inform about the events in their villages, districts and their regions. The publications of municipal press do not touch geopolitical processes and developments.
Today, to finance state and municipal press tens and thousands of budget money are spent. Svitlana Ostapa assures that the majority of municipal press will be able to survive without any donation from a local budget: “We are being criticized that with the adoption of a new law the local press may disappear, but it is not so. According to the information of State Committee of Television and Radio Broadcasting in Ukraine in 2014, there were 555 local publications; the most of them were profitable. Thereby, the majority of them is ready to go in ‘free floating” – noted Svitlana Ostapa. –“At the same time, we do understand that local and regional publications would need support of the government, especially in towns where there are no big industries and hence no advertising earnings. However, financing should be made only if under conditions of financial transparency.”
The law on Reforming State and Municipal Print Media defines the stages and means of denationalization of press. The expert of media group of the RPR emphasized the importance of immediate launch of the reform with the law coming into force on 1 January 2016. The editorial offices that are planning to participate in the pilot stage of reforming process have to start thinking about the way they want to reform their publications.
The government agencies that are founders of publications, in their turn, should not delay the decision-making process. The participants concluded that they are happy that finally, the reforming process was launched and nothing blocks it.
“Reforming of print media is a liberation of journalists from slavery,” emphasized Taras Shevchenko.
The video in English can be found here.
Organisers: media – group of the Reanimation Package of Reforms (Media Law Institute, NGO “ Telekritika” and Institute of Mass Information)