Statement Regarding Sabotage of the Public Broadcasting Reform

February 18, 2016

The RPR-Media group of the Reanimation Package of Reforms, the Independent Media Council, NGOs – the Institute of Mass Information, the Media Law Institute, the Institute of Regional Press Development, Internews Ukraine, Telekrytyka, and the Souspilnist Foundation express their concern about the situation around the National Public Broadcaster of Ukraine (NPBU).

In 2014, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a new Law of Ukraine On Public Television and Radio Broadcasting that has formulated the principles underlying the activity of the independent public broadcaster in Ukraine. The amendments made in spring 2015 introduced a procedure of reorganizing state-owned broadcasters into public ones. To implement this law, the Government passed a resolution “On Certain Issues Concerning the Establishment of a Public Joint-Stock Company “National Public Broadcaster of Ukraine” under Reg. No. 567 that has launched a process of reorganization of the National Broadcaster of Ukraine, the National Radio Broadcasting Company of Ukraine, the regional state broadcasters, and the state-owned enterprise “Ukrtelefilm” into the NPBU. In September-December, the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine held conferences to elect and appoint the Supervisory Board of the public broadcaster.

The National Radio Broadcasting Company of Ukraine and the state-owned enterprise “Ukrtelefilm” should have merged with the National Broadcaster of Ukraine that, in its turn, should have been reorganized into the NPBU. Today, most of the regional state broadcasters are going through a merger, being reorganized into directorates within the united public broadcaster. However, the reform was wilfully blocked by the state-owned enterprise “Ukrtelefilm.”

Thus, the directors of the state-owned enterprise “Ukrtelefilm” took a leave at the end of 2015 and refuse to provide access to the facilities to the authorized state agencies, such as the State Fiscal Service, the State Financial Inspectorate, and the Pension Fund of Ukraine, and the investigatory bodies. The reorganization commission turned to the law enforcement bodies and the court with a request to get access to the documents and stamps of the enterprise. However, the hearing has been postponed several times with no good reason, while court decision that has been passed recently does not ensure an effective process of audits and reorganization.

Such actions of the directors, as well as inactivity of the competent government agencies, disrupt implementation of one of the key reforms in the media sphere of Ukraine. The very establishment of an independent broadcaster should catalyze changes in the media space of the country, as well as rehabilitate it. Moreover, the establishment of a public broadcaster is one of Ukraine’s commitments under the Ukraine-EU Association Agenda (2013) aimed at facilitating implementation of the Association Agreement. The launch of public broadcasting is also Ukraine’s commitment to the Council of Europe made in 2005 (Resolution 1466 (2005).

Therefore, we call on the competent government agencies to take measures provided for by the effective laws of Ukraine to reorganize state-owned broadcasters into public ones as soon as possible.