In Ukraine, a law reforming the media is controversial

In Ukraine, a law reforming the media is controversial

A step on the path to European integration for its supporters, a “threat to freedom of the press” for its detractors: the law reforming media regulation in Ukraine, signed on December 29 by President Volodymyr Zelensky, and supposed to come into force at the end of March, is causing controversy.

Among other measures, the reform extends the powers of the regulator, the National Council for Radio and Television, which has responsibility for regulating print and online media, as well as television, radio and platforms such as YouTube. or social networks. It thus gives it the right to impose fines on the media, revoke their licenses and temporarily block certain publications, without waiting for a court decision.


For Lina Kouchtch, first secretary of the National Union of Journalists, the reform risks “introducing tools of censorship”, by entrusting disproportionate powers to the regulator, an organization which she considers to be “politicized”: the Council is thus a body constitutional, half of whose members are appointed by the president and the other half by the parliament, currently controlled by the presidential majority.

“Therefore, the regulator is under the full control of the authorities,” she explains. An opinion shared by the International Federation of Journalists (FIJ), which warned in a press release published on January 17 that the reform “threatens press freedom” in Ukraine: “Freedom and pluralism of the media are in danger in Ukraine with this new law, because it extends the State control over them,” said Dominique Pradalié, the president of the IJF.

European Union Compliance

But for its supporters, including Igor Rozkladai, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law, a Ukrainian think tank, the reform is a necessary step to bring legislation into line with European directives. The association agreement signed in 2014 between Ukraine and the European Union thus obliges the country to update its legislation in the audiovisual field. With Ukraine officially granted EU candidate status last June, and the Ukrainian government announcing its intention to become a member within two years, the adoption reforms is urgent.

Reporters Without Borders hailed the adoption of the law, which “clarifies, details and broadens the competences” of the regulator. However, the organization believes that the process for appointing members should be changed to guarantee its independence. However, this would require changing the country’s Constitution, which is impossible as long as martial law is in force.

No pro-Russian propaganda

But several Ukrainian media have already taken up the cause of the reform, including the television group 1+1, the second most important Ukrainian channel: in a press release published on 10 December last, the group estimates that “the European future of millions of Ukrainians” depends on the adoption of this law. Thus, Ukraine must first implement seven recommendations of the European Commission before hoping to become a member of the EU, among which is the adoption of a law on the media.

For MP Yevhenia Kravtchouk, member of the “Servant of the People” party and co-author of the text, the reform is not only a necessary step on the road to European integration, but also represents a “victory” in the cultural war between Russia and Ukraine.

The law prohibits the broadcast of programs or material questioning the territorial integrity of Ukraine, or containing pro-Russian propaganda. “War is not won only with tanks and fighter planes,” explains Yevhenia Kravtchouk. It is also a cultural fight, to preserve and protect the identity, the culture, the Ukrainian language. »

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