Statement by Ukrainian media organizations on the situation with the renewal of licenses for Channel 112
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On September 26, 2019, the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine did not renew the licenses of five regional broadcasters which worked under the “112 Ukraine” logo. The program concepts of these five broadcasters envisaged regional broadcasting in entertainment and information format. However, at their frequencies, the nationwide information channel "112 Ukraine" was broadcasting, which was in breach of the license conditions.
Ukrainian media organizations remind that the 2011 terrestrial digital broadcasting competition was held with severe violations. Instead of real and important for their cities and regions broadcasters who have been broadcasting for more than a decade, the licenses for digital broadcasting have been given to newly created shell companies with a registered capital of less than 1,000 UAH: "New format TV", "Partner TV", "Ariadna TV", "TV Vybir" and "Leader TV". In 2013, these license holders merged and started broadcasting under the "112 Ukraine" brand, thereby arbitrarily changing program concepts from regional to national broadcasting and depriving millions of the regional television audience of access to content that envisaged regional specifics for these TV channels.
Ukrainian media organizations draw attention of international and Ukrainian institutions to the fact that the decision not to renew licenses for regional broadcasters, which have been broadcasting jointly under the 112 Ukraine brand, is not related to the political tone of the content by these broadcasters. It is caused by serious misuse by the specified regional broadcasters, who have manipulated their program concepts and systematically violated the competition and licensing conditions, without reacting to the sanctions of the regulator.
In this case, it is also not a matter of revoking the license of Channel 112: it still has a valid license for satellite broadcasting. The channel also continues to broadcast on cable, IPTV networks.
We emphasize that a fair regulatory field is needed by every media without exceptions. Combining licenses of one territorial category to artificially circumvent the terms of the competition is not only a formal violation of the law, but also a creation of a non-competitive environment in the media market. The employees and owners of Channel 112 have to admit that over the years, digital broadcasting has been infringing the license conditions, and the regulator's decision is more than fair. Instead, journalists should focus on quality editorial policy and continue broadcasting in satellite and cable format.
In particular, we call on international organizations such as the IFJ and the OSCE to carefully clarify the context of the situation and verify the facts before releasing statements on the freedom of speech state in Ukraine, since unfounded statements call into question the impartiality, professionalism and reputation of these organizations.
Independent Media Council
Mass Information Institute
the Center for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM)
Independent Broadcasters' Association
Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy
On April 15, 2011, by decision No. 824, the National Council announced a “competition for broadcasting license on free channels of the multichannel TV network MX-5 in DVB-T2 standard (MPEG-4) for the territorial broadcasting category - regional and local broadcasting, taking into account the decision of the National of the Council “On approval of competition conditions” dated 15.04.2011 No. 823”. On August 16 and 17, 2011, the National Council made a series of decisions on the issuance of licenses to the newly created LLC "New Format TV", LLC "Ariadna TV", LLC "Partner TV", LLC "Leader TV" and LLC "TV Vybir" with equivalent content stating that the "territorial broadcasting category is regional". Thus, these companies have received licenses in a competition for regional and local digital broadcasting, but not for national broadcasting.
On November 5, 2013, the National Council decided to reissue the licenses for broadcasting organizations which were granted broadcasting rights at the regional multiplex MX-5 (LLC "New Format TV", LLC "Ariadna TV", LLC "Partner TV", LLC "Leader TV" and LLC "Vybir Choice") "in connection with the change of the source data, specifying in the licenses: - source data (logo, callsigns, emblem): … emblem “112 UKRAINE””(decisions No. 2070, 2071, 2081, 2084, 2088). After the license was renewed, all five regional companies started broadcasting the 112 Ukraine program to a nationwide audience, which was a blatant violation of the competition conditions regarding the definition of the territorial broadcasting category.
On August 21, 2014, the National Council issued a warning to all five companies as a result of the unscheduled audit of the LLC "New format TV" and the monitoring results of other companies from the 112 Ukraine network, which recorded significant changes to the format and program concept compared to the licenses. A warning has also been issued for the LLC "TELEVISION AND RADIO BROADCASTING COMPANY 112-TV" (satellite broadcasting). In particular, the companies increased the volume of information programs (from 2 h 30 min a day to 23 h 13 min a day). In this respect, there were no cultural, educational programs (should have been 15 minutes a day), entertaining programs (should have been 3.5 hours a day) and film screening (should have been 11 hours 51 minutes a day), and children's programs were screened at night. The format has been changed from entertainment and informational with film screening to informational.
During the period of activity of these companies, the National Council applied eight sanctions to each of them, which were valid and were not canceled by the court:
1. Warning on 21.08.2014 - challenged, National Council won the first-instance court in 2015, the appeal in 2016 and the appeal in cassation in 2016;
2. Warning on 26.03.2015 - challenged, National Council won the first-instance court in 2016 and the appeal in 2016;
3. Warning on 18.06.2015 - challenged, National Council won the first-instance court in 2018 and the appeal in 2018;
4. Fine 23.07.15 - not paid and appealed;
5. Appeal to court with a claim for revocation of the license 03.09.2015;
6. Warning 05.10.2017;
7. Warning on 22.03.2018;
8. Warning 19.09.2019.
The systematic violations recorded by the National Council during the broadcasting of these five companies are related to the breach of program concepts, which envisaged regional broadcasting in entertainment and information format, and in fact, the national information channel 112 Ukraine was broadcasting on these frequencies.
September 26 was the last day of the term of licenses for these five regional companies, after which they have to stop digital broadcasting. A new competition will be soon announced for regional broadcasters for vacant frequencies in the multiplex MX-5.