On August 29, the first session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the ninth convocation took place. One of the innovations of this Parliament has been the removal of regulatory issues in the media industry (including the audiovisual market, print, and online media), outside the competence of the Committee on Freedom of Speech. From now on, the reform of the media industry in the highest legislative body will be handled by the Parliamentary Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy. It is headed by Oleksandr Tkachenko, the former CEO of one of the largest media holdings in the country. Although the committee’s work plan has not yet been made public, it’s obvious that the bill on audiovisual media services will be the most expected by the media community. The Verkhovna Rada of the previous convocation was not able to accept it.
At the same time, MPs who came to power after the Revolution of Dignity managed to launch practically all the key media reforms that had been expected for more than two decades. Therefore, the task of the new “media committee” and the Parliament as a whole is not only to ensure new transformations, but also to support and strengthen the positive changes initiated by the predecessors.
Back in 1995, by joining the Council of Europe, Ukraine pledged to comply with the requirements of ensuring pluralistic democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons under its jurisdiction. The Council of Europe, evaluating the fulfillment of its obligations, has repeatedly emphasized the need for democratization of the media and freedom of speech. So, in its Resolution “On Fulfilling the Obligations of Ukraine” No. 1466 dated 05.10.2005, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe proposed a number of necessary steps aimed at “improving the conditions for the functioning of pluralistic democracy in Ukraine”. Among them: to turn state television and radio companies into public broadcasting channels, to begin the denationalization of print media established by state and local authorities, to guarantee transparency of ownership of the media, to ensure that the new version of the television and radio broadcasting law complies with Council of Europe standards and the recommendations of its experts etc.
Actually, the agenda of media reform in Ukraine was formed long before the start of the Dignity Revolution. However, the desire to continue to use the media as an instrument of political struggle, especially during the elections, held back the launch of transformation processes for a long time. The updated version of the legislation in the field of television and radio broadcasting was adopted in 2006, and the European Convention on Transfrontier Television was ratified by Ukraine in 2008, but the implementation of other recommendations became possible only after the Revolution of Dignity. And largely thanks to it.
On April 17, 2014, the Democratic majority formed in parliament after the escape of former President Viktor Yanukovych voted in favor of the new Law on Public Television and Broadcasting of Ukraine, which gave rise to one of the most important media reforms designed to create truly independent media.
Subsequently, the Agreement on the Coalition of Deputies “European Ukraine”, concluded by the People’s Deputies after the 2014 parliamentary elections, identified a sufficiently clear list of steps for reforming the media sphere. In particular, full-fledged launch of public television and radio broadcasting, de-nationalization of state-owned and communal property print media, liquidation of the National Expert Commission of Ukraine on the Protection of Public Morality as a state institute, ensuring transparency, demonopolization and de-offshore media ownership, strengthening of responsibility for obstruction of journalistic activity, protection of national information space and creation of a foreign language network.
An important role in promoting media reform was played by the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy, which was headed in December 2014 by MP Viktoria Siumar, in the past a journalist and representative of media NGOs. Since the victory of the Dignity Revolution, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has adopted more than 20 laws aimed at improving media regulation. Most of them were developed directly by the Committee members in collaboration with media experts and lawyers. In particular, representatives of the Reanimation Package of Reforms – a coalition of public organizations, experts, journalists and scientists who united during the Dignity Revolution to transform protest energy into reform energy. In 2014, the team of the Reanimation Package of Reform Coalition developed and presented the Roadmap of Reforms, a document containing step-by-step plans for implementing change in the 18 most important sectors at that time, including the media.
In February 2015, the Parliament voted in favor of the liquidation of the National Expert Commission of Ukraine on the Protection of Public Morality – in fact, a body of state censorship, on the function of which it was spent from UAH 4 to 5 million annually. Over the next four years, other media reforms have been launched, although implementing the changes properly will require time and additional work from the new parliament and government.
Public Broadcast Launch
The first attempt to create an independent broadcaster in Ukraine took place in 1997 with the adoption of the Law of Ukraine “On the System of Public Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine”. It was assumed that the procedure for the formation of Public Broadcasting should be additionally determined by the Verkhovna Rada. The parliament was also entrusted with the powers to approve the Charter, the program concept of the Public Council (supervisory body). The financing of a public broadcaster should be at the expense of a subscription fee, government order, sale of content and donor funds. Moreover, the state order could be no more than 20% of the total broadcasting volume.
However, after the temporary situation and the composition of the supervisory board was approved, no real actions to launch public broadcasting happened. At the same time, an extensive system of state television and radio continued to exist in Ukraine.
A telling example of the complete dependence of state media on the ruling elite was the coverage of the events of Euro Maidan on the air of the National Television Company of Ukraine. The results of monitoring studies of the state television channel’s information programs testified to numerous violations of journalism standards: incomplete and manipulative coverage of events, extremely positive and uncritical reporting of actions by the authorities, suppression of information about victims of protests from law enforcement agencies, the position of protesters and the opposition.
It is logical that one of the first steps towards democratization was the adoption of the Law of Ukraine “On Public Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine” in March 2014, which provides for the transformation of the state television and radio system into a completely new public system. At the same time, the primary version of the law required significant clarifications in terms of determining the mechanism for creating the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (NSTU), its organizational and legal form, funding sources, the formation procedure and the foundations of the editorial board. Such changes were introduced in 2015. In 2016, the procedure for admission to the NSTU of the state-owned enterprise “Ukrainian Television Film Studio Ukrtelefilm” was also changed. It actually sabotaged the process of creating the NSTU and could not be reorganized along with other state companies, because there were unresolved judicial disputes regarding the property of the mentioned enterprise.
The mechanism of transforming state broadcasting into public provided that the NSTU is formed as a public joint-stock company with 100% state ownership. Public broadcasting was formed on the basis of the National Television Company of Ukraine, the National Radio Company of Ukraine, the State Television and Radio Company “Culture”, 30 regional and local state television and radio companies, which are being reorganized by joining the National Television Company of Ukraine. The accession process lasted more than a year and at the end was completed in October 2016 – this gave the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine the opportunity to approve the Charter of the NSTU in December of that year. On January 19, 2017, the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine was officially registered as a legal entity, although the transformation process did not end there.
To protect public service broadcasting from government censorship and interference with editorial policies, it is important that the law guarantees the independence of key management bodies of the NSTU and its financial stability.
Supervision of the activities of the NSTU is entrusted to the Supervisory Board, whose powers include determining the main activities of the NSTU, electing, on a competitive basis, the members of the NSTU board, deciding on the early termination of their powers, approving the editorial charter and monitoring its implementation, electing part of the editorial board, approving the annual report. According to the law, the NSTU Supervisory Board includes representatives from deputy factions and groups of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the current convocation (one representative from each). Public associations and associations that carry out their main activities in the fields of education and science, the rights of national minorities, human rights, creativity, sports, journalism, protecting the interests of children and youth, local self-government, and the rights of persons with special needs also delegate their representatives. They elect members of the NSTU Supervisory Board at special conferences organized by the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting. To protect the Supervisory Board from excessive political influence, the law requires that the number of members of the Supervisory Board elected from deputy fractions and groups be less than the number of members elected by the public.
The NSTU Supervisory Board was formed already at the end of 2015 and today consists of 16 members (7 – representatives from deputies, 9 – members of the public). In 2017, the Supervisory Board, on the basis of an open competition among 7 candidates, each of whom was supposed to present its own concept for the development of the Public, elected Zurab Alasania the Chairman of the Board of the NSTU. The other candidate was the head of State Committee for Television and Radio Oleg Nalyvaiko, who was assessed as a “pro-government” candidate.
The freedom of the editorial policy of a public broadcaster from political influence was an important achievement. Resonant investigative journalism programs began to go on the air – “Schemes: Corruption in Details” (a joint project with Radio Liberty) and “Our Money.” Because of the harsh independent editorial policy, individual deputies initiated amendments to the law in order to oblige NSTU to provide them with airtime to cover their activities. Relevant Bill No. 6681 “On Amendments to Article 18 of the Law of Ukraine“ On Public Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine “was not accepted.
A serious test for the editorial independence of the NSTU was the decision of the Supervisory Board on early termination of the contract with the chairman of the NSTU board Zurab Alasania, adopted on January 31, 2019. According to the Minutes of the meeting, which was released a week after a secret ballot, the basis for his release was “the inconsistency of the chairman of the post due to insufficient qualifications”. A number of public organizations, journalists, international institutions, and even individual members of the NSTU Supervisory Board have expressed concern about this decision and the way it was adopted. In particular, due to the lack of communication on the immediate grounds for dismissal. Under such conditions, such ill-conceived steps could destabilize public service broadcasting, especially in the context of the electoral process. On June 19, 2019, the Shevchenkovsky District Court of Kyiv declared unlawful and quashed the decision of the Supervisory Board to dismiss Zurab Alasania from the post of chairman of the board of the NSTU. At the same time, on June 27, 2019, even before the court decision entered into force, the Supervisory Board quashed its decision on the early termination of the contract with Zurab Alasania.
An equally serious threat to the functioning of public service broadcasting is systematic underfunding. At first glance, the law established a fairly effective and independent system, according to which the financing of the NSTU is provided for as a separate line in the State Budget and amounts to at least 0.2 percent of the expenses of the General Fund of the State Budget for the previous year. However, despite a certain guarantee, the Verkhovna Rada annually violates its obligations by underfunding by 30-50%. So, in 2017, the law on the state budget allocated UAH 970 million instead of UAH 1294 million stipulated by the relevant law. In 2018, according to the law, the amount of financing was to amount to UAH 1,535 million, of which 776 million was allocated. The Law on the State Budget for 2019 provides for UAH 1,005 million from UAH 1,816 million. Given that today Public Broadcasting includes 26 television channels and 28 radio stations in all regions of Ukraine, such underfunding is a significant obstacle to the effective implementation of the mission of the NSTU.
The Law “On Public Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine” also provides for other possible sources of financing, such as the sale of own content (which first requires significant modernization of hardware and software systems, financing for external shootings), the possibility of introducing a monthly fee, and attracting international assistance. As a whole, and individually, it cannot guarantee the necessary financial stability. Separately, it is worth noting that advertising on the Public in commercial volumes is allowed only in the first 4 years of its activity. In the future, the volume of advertising and sponsorship materials should be reduced to 5% during the day (up to 10% during the election period) .
In the near future, Public Broadcasting is expected to face challenges related to finding a more effective financing model and updating the composition of the Supervisory Board. It is important that, as a result, all these processes do not destroy the achievements of previous years, but preserve and strengthen public service broadcasting in the interests of civil society.
Denationalization of Print Media
Transforming the state television system into public service broadcasting has become an important step towards reducing government influence on the media. At the same time, another reform played an equally important role in enhancing media independence – the denationalization of the print media of state bodies and local authorities.
In 2014, there were more than 600 communal newspapers in Ukraine. The content of their publications was far from real coverage of events important to society. On the contrary, quite often it was such publications that became an administrative resource for hidden agitation. And all this is at the expense of local budgets. According to the State Committee on Television and Radio Broadcasting, during 2013, 645 newspapers received financial support from local budgets, and its amount amounted to 97 899 500 UAH. In 2014, on average, city councils spent 200-400 thousand hryvnias on publishing newspapers with a variation of only 420 hryvnias per year on the City newspaper of the Zhytomyr city council to 8 500 000 hryvnias on the Kharkiv Izvestia newspaper of the Kharkiv city council.
The situation with state publications was no better. We are talking about the parliamentary Voice of Ukraine newspaper, Veche magazine and more than a hundred publications founded by ministries and other authorities. So, state newspapers annually receive tens of millions of hryvnias from the budget. In 2015 alone, more than 14 million hryvnias were spent from the state budget on financing the publications of the parliament – the Voice of Ukraine newspaper and the Veche magazine.
The concepts of denationalizing the media in Ukraine were introduced in parliament in 1998. The need to adopt a special law on the reform of the state and communal press was also provided for by Decree of the President of Ukraine of January 20, 2006 No. 39 “On the Plan of Measures to Fulfill the Obligations of Ukraine arising from its membership in the Council of Europe”. Actually, the relevant bills were registered in the Verkhovna Rada. However, before the Revolution of Dignity, not a single member was able to vote for the reform.
Draft Law of Ukraine “On Reforming State and Communal Printed Media” No. 1123, although it contained a number of shortcomings, at the end became the legislative basis for the reform. Its goal is to limit the influence of the state on the media, increase the competitiveness of print media. The way to this was the obligation for all state and local authorities to withdraw from the founders of the print media. The law was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in December 2015.
On January 1, 2016, the process of privatization of print media in Ukraine finally started. 3 years were allotted for the reform of all state publications. The reform involved two phases. The first stage was to become a “pilot”, last one year and cover publications, voluntarily agree to denationalization. The purpose of this stage was also to identify potential obstacles to reform and prepare appropriate proposals for legislative changes to address them. However, the process of compiling the list of companies, with the approval of which the conversion process was formally started, was delayed for almost a year – until November 23, 2016. As a result, 244 communal and state publications went to the first stage of reform, in fact began the process of privatization along with the rest of the publications to be reformed in the second stage. It was supposed to last from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2018.
In 2017, the print media founded by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and civil-military administrations during the anti-terrorist operation were removed from reform. And on October 2, 2018, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine also voted to exclude from the reform sphere the parliamentary newspaper Voice of Ukraine and the newspaper of Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Uryadovy Kurier. However, since such newspapers have the status of official print media, the law prohibits them from posting advertisements or any other information (including journalistic materials), the publication of which is not required by law.
The decision to reorganize the print media and the editorial office in accordance with the law is entrusted to their founders (co-founders). In total, the law defined four ways of reforming. So, in the absence of state or communal property in the editorial office, it was enough for the authorities to simply decide on leaving the founders of the publication. Otherwise, the exit of the authorities from the co-founders was accompanied either by the transformation of the editorial office into a new business entity (it was supposed to be done by the labor collective) with the preservation of the name, purpose, language, and thematic focus or by the privatization of the editorial property. The last option came if the work collective did not want to participate in the reform.
For publications founded by ministries and other central executive bodies, a special method of reform was provided for – turning the print media into an official print publication, which, according to the law, is issued with the aim of publishing normative legal acts, decisions of these bodies and information, the publication of which is mandatory by legislation. In preparing such a publication, the creative work of journalists is not used.
The law also established certain guarantees for the reformed media. In particular, state or communal premises, in which editorial offices were located at the time of the reform, are leased to them for a term of at least 15 years with reduced rent. In addition, while maintaining the title, purpose and thematic focus of the publication, the reformed editorial offices may receive priority rights to conclude agreements on the coverage of the activities of local executive authorities and local governments, as well as targeted financial assistance.
The Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy, representatives of the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting and media experts twice tried to amend the relevant law. Their goal was to remove the obstacles that had arisen on the path of privatization, in particular, conflicts between the founders of publications and labor collectives, problems of preserving editorial property, and the like. The last attempt was the draft law “On Amending the Law of Ukraine” On Reforming State and Communal Printed Media “No. 8444, which, inter alia, provided a mechanism for maintaining the right of the publication’s title and certain property rights for labor collectives if the publication It was not reformed by the end of the second stage through the fault of the founder. However, the bill was not adopted.
Despite all the obstacles, as of July 1, 2019, the reform process was completed by 556 with 664 communal publications and 41 from 98 publications, which were founded by government bodies.
Changes in the regulation of audiovisual media
Along with increasing media independence from state censorship and influence, the field of commercial audiovisual broadcasting also required significant changes. In particular, in the direction of deconcentration and strengthening the powers of the national regulator – the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting, which has an effective response to violations by broadcasters of the requirements of legislation and licenses.
According to the principles of state policy in the field of television and radio broadcasting, defined in the Law of Ukraine “On Television and Radio Broadcasting”, the state undertook to establish “effective restrictions on the monopolization of television and radio organizations by industrial, financial, political and other groups or individuals”, as well as guarantee “protection of television and radio organizations from financial and political pressure from financial and political groups and public authorities and local governments. ” For a long time, these provisions remained absolutely declarative. Indeed, the current regulation not only did not establish any effective obstacles to the concentration of media in the ownership of individual oligarchs, but also did not contribute in principle to the disclosure of information about who is the real owner of certain television and radio channels.
Therefore, the adoption in September 2015 of the Law of Ukraine “On Amending Certain Laws of Ukraine regarding the transparency of media ownership and the implementation of the principles of state policy in the field of television and radio broadcasting” was the first step towards a more transparent and demonopolized media environment.
According to the adopted law, all broadcasters licensed in accordance with Ukrainian legislation are required to submit information on the ownership structure for the reporting period to the National Council every year until March 31. The report on the ownership structure includes a rather detailed list of information, including information on all owners, participants, shareholders of the subject of information activity at all levels of the chain of ownership of the rights of such a subject. Including the ultimate beneficiary, that is, a specific individual must have a decisive influence on the management or activity of such a broadcaster. In addition, information is disclosed on all persons who own more than 10% of the charter capital and/or shares of the licensee, all key participants in each legal entity, there are ownership rights in the chain, as well as control relations between such participants (i.e., ownership of such persons is more than 50% or the presence of more than 50% of the votes in such participants in one entity). Information on the ownership structure of broadcasters is also posted on its official website. Thus, any viewer can easily check who potentially influences the editorial policy of the channel.
Almost the same requirements apply to software service providers. At the same time, the law also requires them to indicate information about persons in the report to the National Council; during the reporting year, they provided providers of the financial services program (loans, financial assistance, etc.), if the total amount of such financing is from one person during the reporting year amounted to 125 and more minimum wage (in 2018 – more than 465 thousand UAH).
For failure to submit or untimely submission of information on the ownership structure to the National Council, a penalty of 5% of the license fee for all licenses granted to the violator is prescribed. Lack of reliable information about the ownership structure, as well as an opaque ownership structure (if it is impossible to identify all persons with significant participation or significant influence) is the basis for refusing to issue a license.
Already in 2016, with 1557 licensees, 862 filed documents on the ownership structure on time. 486 licensees were fined. In 2018, the National Council fined only 174 licensees for failure to provide or late submission of information on the ownership structure. At the same time, for other violations in the field of transparency of media ownership, for example, for providing false or incomplete information on the ownership structure, the National Council may impose only a warning. It is worth noting that the current powers of the National Council do not give the opportunity to fully investigate the veracity of the information provided on the ownership structure of television and radio organizations and certain ultimate beneficial owners.
Thus, for the first time, media are required to disclose who actually stands behind them. Prerequisites were also created for more effective control in order to prevent monopolism in the field of broadcasting. According to the detailed requirements of the law, no individual or legal entity alone and / or together with a group of related parties have the right to control in any way more than 35 percent of the total volume of the corresponding territorial television and radio information market – national, regional or local. At the same time, there is still no understanding of what to consider as a “market”, as well as sufficient authority to evaluate real control in the Regulator. For the full implementation of these goals, Ukraine should consider options for introducing requirements for financial transparency of the media.
Strengthening the Powers of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council
The effective response of the National Council in violation for a long time was hampered by the fact that the regulator should determine the amount of fines that he could apply to violators, in agreement with the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. All attempts to coordinate fines ended in nothing. Only in 2015, for the first time during its activity, the National Council managed to introduce fines. The legality of this order has become the subject of consideration even for the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. However, on November 1, 2016, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law of Ukraine “On Amending the Law of Ukraine“ On Television and Radio Broadcasting ”(regarding the improvement of the procedure for applying sanctions by the National Council”), which enshrined the list of violations and sanctions directly in the text of the Law of Ukraine “On Television and Radio Broadcasting” .
The size of fines is calculated as a percentage of the size of the license fee – 5%, 10% and 25%, depending on the offense. For example, a fine of 25 percent of the license fee is set for calls for forcibly changing the constitutional system of Ukraine, initiating an aggressive war or its propaganda and / or inciting ethnic, racial or religious hatred and hatred, as well as for promoting the exclusivity, superiority or inferiority of persons on the grounds of their religious beliefs, ideology, belonging to a particular nation or race, physical or property status, social origin.
An important innovation of the law was the ability of the National Council to impose sanctions in the form of a fine for particularly serious violations without a mandatory preliminary announcement of a warning. Previously, a fine as a sanction could be applied only if the licensee did not eliminate the violation after the warning, or if he had already received at least three warnings from the date of receipt or renewal of the license.
So, on February 7, 2019, the National Council recognized the presence on the air of 24 Hours News LLC, (“NEWSONE”), calls for an aggressive war or its propaganda and / or incitement of national, racial or religious hatred and hatred, and, on the basis of Section 72 of the Law Of Ukraine “On Television and Radio Broadcasting”, applied the “fine collection” sanction to the company in the amount of 25% of the license fee, for this broadcaster it is UAH 96,530.25 .
Protection of national television and radio space
Armed aggression of Russia in the East of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea significantly influenced the agenda of media reform. In 2015, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law of Ukraine “On the Ukrainian Broadcasting System,” which created the legal basis for launching state broadcasting. Such broadcasting is aimed at protecting the national interests of Ukraine abroad, the formation and maintenance of a positive image of Ukraine in the world through prompt and objective reporting of events in Ukraine, official domestic and foreign policy and the state’s position. Since 2014, a number of changes have also been adopted aimed at limiting the distribution of the Russian information product. In parallel, people’s deputies and the parliamentary committee on freedom of speech and information policy initiated strengthening guarantees for the development of national audiovisual content.
Before the adoption of the scandalous Law “On the Basics of State Language Policy” in 2012 (the so-called “Law of Kolesnichenko-Kivalov”) for nationwide broadcasting, the share of airtime in Ukrainian should have been at least 75% of the total daily broadcasting. The language law canceled this requirement, giving television and radio organizations complete freedom of action. Unfortunately, quite often the choice was in favor of cheap Russian-language series and programs.
In order to return legislative guarantees for the use of the state language in broadcasting, in June 2016 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted to amend the Law of Ukraine “On Television and Radio Broadcasting”, which related to the share of musical works in the state language in the programs of broadcasting organizations. So, today the proportion of songs in Ukrainian on the radio should be at least 35% of the total volume of songs distributed during the day, as well as separately in the time interval between 07.00 and 14.00 and between 15.00 and 22.00. For broadcasters who distribute musical works with a share of songs in the official languages of the European Union of at least 60% of the total volume of songs, the corresponding quota is 25%. In addition, at least 60% of the daily volume of broadcasts, including news and analytical units and entertainment programs, should be in the state language.
According to the monitoring of the National Council, which was held in November-December 2018, on average, the percentage of songs in Ukrainian on national radio stations is 51%, on regional and local ones – 48%, and the average rate of broadcasts in Ukrainian on domestic national and regional radio stations – 86% and 92%, respectively.
On May 23, 2017, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine also adopted the Law of Ukraine “On Amending Certain Laws of Ukraine Concerning the Language of Audiovisual (Electronic) Media”. According to the adopted amendments, in the total weekly broadcasting volume of national television and radio broadcasting organizations, broadcasts and/or films made in the state language should constitute at least 75% of the total duration of broadcasts and/or films (or their parts) in each time interval between 07.00 and 18.00 and between 18.00 and 22.00. A similar requirement applies to news broadcasts. According to the National Council, in 2018 the average share of the Ukrainian language on domestic nationwide digital TV channels grew to 91.7%.
The new law “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language”, which entered into force on July 16, 2019, finally established “quotas”, stipulating that the minimum volume of broadcasting in the state language for television and radio organizations of certain categories should be established precisely by the Law of Ukraine “On Television and Radio Broadcasting” .
Media Reform Agenda
Thanks to the Revolution of Dignity, key reforms in the media field have been pushed forward. The launch of public service broadcasting and the denationalization of the press are unconditional achievements, the full significance of which is only just beginning to be revealed. At the same time, today it is important to prevent the rollback of these reforms and to maintain the gained independence from political influence and censorship. In particular, to introduce a more secure model for financing public service broadcasting and amend the legislation regarding guarantees for the independence of the NSTU and the effective distribution of powers of the public administration bodies.
The changes that were made to the basic law in the field of television and radio broadcasting after the Revolution of Dignity, although they were aimed at improving regulation in the sphere, nevertheless remain targeted, unsystematic and ineffective. Today, there is a need to apply new principles of state regulation to adapt audiovisual services to the rapid development of technological conditions and challenges to the security of the information space. In September 2017, the Parliament registered the draft law “On Amending the Law of Ukraine “On Television and Radio Broadcasting” No. 7397, which provides for a thorough update of the regulation in the field of audiovisual media in accordance with the requirements of the Council of Europe and the European Union. Unfortunately, the Verkhovna Rada of the previous convocation could not consider the bill even in the first reading. This gives free rein to the new parliament to propose its own version of the regulation of audiovisual media services in the country. Given the complex of relations that the new law should regulate, it is very important that its developments be carried out with the participation of a wide range of stakeholders – the industry, the regulator and the expert environment.
Unfortunately, five years after the Revolution of Dignity, parliament was also unable to introduce changes in the media sphere in the context of electoral reform. Ukraine still does not have any effective mechanisms to limit the dominance of paid political advertising on television. At the same time, reimbursement of expenses for such advertising is carried out, in particular, at the expense of the State budget. In the legislation, it is advisable to provide for significant restrictions on the purchase of airtime for the implementation of campaigning. And also to improve the mechanisms of control and holding the media accountable for violations. In the light of recent election campaigns, ensuring transparency in the cost of political advertising on the Internet should be no less a challenge.
The convergence and improvement of the independence and effectiveness of the media regulator, the strengthening of guarantees for the protection of journalistic activities, the abolition of obsolete laws on mandatory activity of government bodies and state support for the media, the introduction of requirements for transparency of online media are also on the list of events that will take place over the next five to five years should be turned into achievements by the new parliament.
 More about NSTU funding: https://cedem.org.ua/analytics/suspilne-movlennya-ukrayiny-problema-zabezpechennya-finansovoyi-nezalezhnosti/
 One of the arguments for the National Council was the decision of the Independent Media Council – the experts substantiated the presence of signs of animosity at once in four NewsOne TV programs: https://mediarada.org.ua/case/rozpalyuvannya-vorozhnechi-v-efiri-telekanalu-news -protyahom-31-serpnya-17-zhovtnya-2018-term /
Vita Volodovska, Center for Democracy and Rule of Law