Today April 19 2016, in the office of the Reanimation Package of Reforms, the Reanimation Package of Reforms in cooperation with the Center for Democracy and Rule of Law (former Media Law Institute) held a diplomatic breakfast dedicated to the second anniversary of the adoption of the Law “On public broadcasting in Ukraine.”
The participants of the meeting discussed the problematic situation of the public broadcasting reform and formation of Public Service Broadcaster (PSB), trying to find an answer to the question why after two years there is still no Public Service Broadcaster.
“The law on Public Service Broadcasting was adopted in the Parliament right after the Maidan,” – started his speech Taras Shevchenko, co-chairman of the Reanimation Package of Reforms Board, member of the Supervisory Board of the National Public Broadcasting company of Ukraine, director of the Center for Democracy and Rule of Law, when reflecting on the law. “Even though it was not a perfect law, it opened a window for opportunities.”
“Firstly, to merge immediately 30 companies into one company is difficult. In 2005 when MLI was developing the draft law on Public Broadcaster, we have foreseen the transformation of National TV Company of Ukraine and National Radio Company of Ukraine. For this reason, the process of formation of PSB on the basis of all state TV and Radio Broadcasters is slow, however, in a long run, it shall ensure better results since it would include regional companies. Another contradictory element is a budget. There is no sufficient amount of money provided and there is also no simple mechanism of generating the budget for a newly created PSB,” – explained Taras Shevchenko.
“It is important to mention the process of formation of the Supervisory Board as it was a unique experience for Ukraine. The positive thing is the absence of interference of political parties and politicians in the process. While they are not helping much, they are not jeopardizing the process of reformation. In addition, the politicians are willing to support the process and the civil society organisations are ready to stimulate the government and implement the reform. Even though the process of formation of PSB is slow, it is irreversible, and together we will be pushing for this reform,” – reiterated Taras Shevchenko.
“The true process of creation of PSB started in August 2015 when the government finally launched the process of re-organisation,” – highlighted Viktoria Romanova, executive vice-president for international cooperation of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Company of Ukraine. “The process of reformation of state media into PSB has two stages, – explained Viktoria Romanova. “The first stage is when all organisations merge into one, and the second stage is the transition of an entity into Public Service Broadcaster. Currently, 29 out of 32 companies joined the NTCU. As for the other 3, two are located in Crimea and there is no access to their documents, while UkrtTelefilm intentionally blocks the process.”
“Much work has been done in terms of licenses of these companies. 162 licenses are in control by reformed NTCU. However, there is still much work left. In addition, the next pivotal step is to improve the Charter developed by State Committee on TV and Radio in collaboration with NTCU, MLI, and the European partners,” – emphasized Viktoria Romanova.
As the PSB is not established yet, the government allocate twice less money as it should be according to the law. Moreover, currently the assigned money are spent exclusively on staff salaries and on transformation expenses; thus, content production costs together with intellectual property rights are not included.
“The key priority for today is to adopt the law on “Procedures of Joining of UkrTelefilm” (No 4232) which allows to unblock the reformation process. UkrTelefim continuously does not allow public officials to conduct planned inspections on its premises, blocking access to the documents on financial situation, staff salaries, etc,” – emphasized Igor Rozkladaj, lawyer at the Center for Democracy and Rule of Law, the expert of the Media Group of the Reanimation Package of Reform
In addition, it is essential to underline that “current law was initially aimed at creation and launch of PSB, for this reason, the priority for the next years will be complex amendments to the current law regarding actual functioning of a newly established company,” – rendered Igor Rozkladaj.
In the end, the director of CEDEM, Taras Shevchenko emphasized the key conditions for the success of Public Service Broadcaster. Firstly, a new government shall continue to support the reform. Secondly, a new Public Service Broadcasting Company must be established in 2016 without any further postponements, and, thirdly, the draft law on merging procedure of UkrTelefilm must be adopted.