The Media Movement backs adoption of Bill on Media, but calls to rectify some of its problematic provisions
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The Media Movement for Conscious Choice and its participating organizations have expressed support for changes to media legislation in Ukraine and for the adoption of draft bill No. 2693-d (as of July 2, 2020) "On Media" in the second reading. At the same time, the Media Movement released an open statement calling to rectify some of provisions, which stirred negative reaction within the media community.
The need to modernize legislation on mass media became imminent long ago. The current legislation regulating the activities of the media was created in the 1990s and does not take into account the current state of both new challenges, including armed aggression by the aggressor state, and the development of information technology. In particular, the current legislation of Ukraine does not define the status of online mass media (online media), contains outdated rules for print media and news agencies, etc. Ukraine must also regulate the activities of television and radio broadcasters in accordance with European legislation. Therefore, the need to create new regulation rules is an urgent need of the whole society. We note significant work and major changes compared to the wording of the draft law "On Media", which was submitted for the first reading (No. 2693 of 27.12.2019). We welcome the inclusion of the Ukrainian language in the mentioned draft, the introduction of decommunization, the restriction of information influence by the aggressor state, the exclusion from the ownership structure of owners hidden in offshore zones etc. At the same time, this project includes certain provisions that caused a negative reaction from the media community. Unfortunately, the Media Movement is forced to state that even in the draft prepared for the repeated first reading, these provisions remained unchanged or underwent only cosmetic changes. The main problems inherent in the draft law "On Media", in the opinion of Media Movement, are the following:
1. Excessive powers of the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting to regulate and control the dissemination of information, not only by broadcasters, but also the Council's remit to oversee other information activities, including the dissemination of information by print media, unregistered online media, bloggers and social media contributors.
2. Introduction of the institution of co-regulation without a clear definition of the powers of the participants in such co-regulation and the division of powers between them.
3. Purely declarative norms on compliance with professional standards of journalism.
4. Preservation of old ineffective legislation, which should prevent excessive concentration of audiovisual media in the hands of one owner.
Taking into account the above, the Movement appeals to Ukraine's members of parliament (MPs) to finalize the draft bill, prepared for the second reading. For their part, media civil society organizations that are members in the Media Movement are preparing their proposals with amendments to this bill. They will be ready to submit these to the working group and MPs. These proposals will be made public soon.