Statement of Media Law Institute on Adoption of the Law Guaranteeing Transparency of Media Ownership

September 4, 2015

Media Law Institute welcomes the adoption of the law on Amendments made to some laws on ensuring transparency of media ownership and implementing of the principles of state policy in the sphere of television and radio broadcasting (the legislation No 1831). A new law became an example of effective cooperation of the authority and the public: the members of Parliament, the representatives of regulatory bodies, the civil society organisations and media experts, who comprised the composition of the working group at the Committee of Freedom, particularly the lawyers of Media Law Institute Igor Rozkladaj and Dariya Opryshko.

Ensuring the transparency of media ownership is not only the obligation that Ukraine assumed through harmonization of the legislations with international standards, but it is also a pivotal step towards unveiling information about true owners of television and radio companies and program service providers to the public.

Transparency of the ownership is an indispensable tool for de-monopolisation of the market. Until the judicially significant information about ownership is absent, the effective anti-monopolized policy will not be feasible. The existence of general mechanisms of revealing of end-beneficiaries is not sufficient when determining the absolute impact on information space – the ownership schemes of digital media often comprise companies, registered in offshore areas what practically makes it almost impossible to detect true and not formal owners.

For this reason, among a novel of the legislation is the duty of any information agent to reveal information about a realistic ownership structure and the right to information inquiry about the ownership structure of television and radio companies and beneficiary owners. Furthermore, the legislation prohibits governmental agencies, local governmental authorities, judicial persons registered in offshore areas, and political parties, religious and trade union organisations to establish directly or indirectly digital media.

When the law enters into force, television and radio organisations and program service providers are obliged to publish information about their ownership structure on their official websites, and submitted to National Council annual reports informing any changes in this structure, what makes it easier for citizens to search this information.

Media Law Institute urges the President of Ukraine to adopt the law as soon as possible, and the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting to ensure its proper implementation.