Special edition digest! Regulations for the media in Ukraine

31 January 2023
Special edition digest! Regulations for the media in Ukraine
Home > Monitoring > Special edition digest! Regulations for the media in Ukraine

Regulations for the media in Ukraine 

Draft bill #2849-IX of December 13, 2022 

Status: adopted as a law, it will be published in the Holos Ukrayiny paper and come into force on March 31. 

Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, media groups, audio/video and printed online media, providers of audio and video services and platforms, journalists, advertisers, members of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine, government bodies, local governments, media NGOs and other media organizations. 

Summary of the bill: 

  • the bill regulates the work of the media sector: 
    • audio/video, printed, and online media 
    • providers of audio/video services/platforms providing access to videos 
    • providers of online communication services

  • the bill does not regulate the broadcasting of the following information: 
    • by persons who are not recognized as media 
    • private entrepreneurs and enterprises who share information on their sites but broadcasting is not their primary economic activity 
    • messages in social media or messengers.

  • the bill prohibits unlawful interference with the work of media by government bodies, local governments, NGOs, political parties, owners, any persons or enterprises. Also, it prohibits to force media to get approval on information going to be published from government bodies, local governments, or political parties 
  • the bill protects economic competition in the media sector. No person or enterprise will have the right in any way, including collectively, to control more than 35% of the total volume of the territorial audio/video media market or more than 5% of the total number of registered printed media 
  • all legal entities in the media sector will be required to disclose their beneficiaries. The bill introduces requirements regarding the transparency of ownership: 
    • information about the owners of the media should make it possible to establish: 
      • all persons who have direct or indirect ownership of the media company or power to influence its management 
      • all key participants 
      • the nature of connections between these persons 
    • trusts or other legal entities registered offshore cannot be principal owners 
    • information about the ownership has to be published on the official website of the media company. If there are changes in the ownership, the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting has to be notified.
  • the bill prohibits media and video-sharing platforms to distribute the following information: 
    • calls for violent change or overthrow of the constitutional order 
    • statements that incite hatred or enmity or incite discrimination or oppression against individuals and groups of individuals 
    • propaganda of terrorism or calls for terrorism 
    • information denying the criminal nature or justifying the communist regime

  • the bill defines the procedure for the refutation of information published in the media. A request for refutation can be submitted within 20 days after the information was published. The media has to consider the request within 14 days. The media has the right to reject the request and after that, the person can challenge this rejection in court 
  • the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting will be responsible for enforcing the law. All government bodies, local governments, officials, citizens, and associations are prohibited to interfere with the issues under the mandate of the Council 
  • the Verkhovna Rada and the President will each appoint four members of the Council. At the same time, only media groups, NGOs, and creative associations that are active in the sector for at least three years (organize public events at least twice a year, initiate discussions about pressing issues, actively participate in solving problems in the sector) will have the right to nominate candidates 
  • the bill defines a list of grounds for early dismissal of a member of the Council

  • the Council: 
    • decides on changing the standards (for radio technologies) 
    • decides whether the ownership of the media is transparent 
    • oversees and controls the enforcement of the law 
    • carries out official monitoring of media activities 
    • issues and nullifies licenses, registers media

  • the bill introduces a mechanism of media co-regulation which will allow market players to interact with the Council on certain issues and solve some of their problems independently 
  • the bill provisions that the list of persons who present a threat to national security is defined by the Ministry of Culture at the request of the National Security and Defense Council, the Security Service, or the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting. The bill also defines the grounds for including people on this list and the requirements for such a decision. 

What is right: 

  • the bill fulfills one of the seven requirements for Ukraine as a candidate for membership in the EU 
  • Ukrainian legislation will be harmonized with the European Convention on Transfrontier Television and the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. However, provisions of the Directive on advertising and hidden advertising are still to be implemented 
  • politicians will have less influence on the appointments of the members of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting. Now parties and parliamentary factions will not be able to nominate their candidates to the Council, everything will depend on the media community 
  • the proposed system of monitoring the transparency of media assets is supposed to decrease the influence of oligarchs 
  • self-organization of media will increase, self-governed organizations will start cooperating with the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting. 

What is wrong: 

  • members of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine are appointed by politicians. This body will be responsible for implementing the law. Its independence is the key factor for the effective regulation of the media market. Although the bill is trying to decrease the political influence on the appointments of members of the Council, the appointment procedure is defined in the Constitution. Without changes to the Constitution, it is impossible to decrease the influence of the President and the Verkhovna Rada on this regulatory body 
  • the bill does not regulate the media of national minorities. Legislative changes concerning the media of national minorities are required from Ukraine as an EU candidate member. Thus, the bill should have contained provisions about the media of national minorities 
  • while amending the bill before the second reading, MPs excluded amendments to the Electoral Code on campaigning rules. 

Alternative solution: 

  • to introduce changes regarding the information policy into the Constitution. In particular, to decrease the political influence on the appointments of the members of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting 
  • to introduce legislative changes regulating the media of national minorities.