On the occasion of the professional day, Ukraine journalists’ day, celebrated on June 6th, the movement “Media for Conscious Choice”, sent an open letter to the president Volodymyr Zelensky suggesting to start high-priority media reforms.
We publish integral text of the open letter:
Dear Mr. President of Ukraine!
We, members of Media movement, appeal to you on the occasion of our professional holiday, Ukraine Journalists’ Day, to propose the agenda of the media reforms and to provide information on top priority missions and challenges in the field of freedom of speech.
The last five years have been very painful for Ukrainian journalists. Our colleagues Pavel Sheremet, Sergei Nikolayev, were killed, now Cherkassy journalist Vadym Komarov, who had been injured as a result of the brutal attack in Cherkassy, remains in medically induced coma. Another journalist, Stanislav Aseyev, is held in captivity of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic for already two years. The journalist Mykola Semena had been sentenced with probation and subjected to the ban to leave Crimea, and journalist Roman Sushchenko had been sentenced by Kremlin to 12 years of colony of strict regime. Over the last years hundreds of our colleagues were taken hostages, became forcibly displaced persons and suffered from pressure and threats because of their professional activities.
We urge you, as the newly elected President of Ukraine, to take concrete measures to guarantee freedom of speech and development of the media domain in Ukraine. We expect that your election as President will mean new prospects for the Ukraine media sphere, as well as irreversibility of the reforms that have taken place the recent years, in particular those ones which are related to the establishment of public service broadcasting, enhanced transparency of media ownership, and so on.
We propose the following seven steps, the implementation of which is very important for the journalistic community and the media industry:
Step 1. Accountability
We urge you to regularly render account to Ukrainians of your actions as the President of Ukraine. In particular, this does mean not only communication through the social networks, but regular meetings with the press as well, press conferences at least once a quarter, answers to the questions the journalists ask working for different media outlets targetting different audiences.
Step 2. Counteraction to impunity
We urge you to take under your personal control the investigation of murders and attacks on journalists, including those ones which occurred in the occupied territories, and, in accordance with your authority, to take all measures to stop impunity. In order that Ukraine could evolve as a democratic European country, the mechanisms ensuring a comprehensive protection of professional journalistic activity should be put in place.
Step 3. Public Broadcasting
We call on you to contribute to the development of public broadcasting. It is important to preserve independence of the public broadcaster and to counter any pressure on the National public television and radio company of Ukraine (NPTU), including financial one. A well-developed and democratic society requires a powerful and independent from political and government influence broadcaster.
Step 4. Media Reforms
We call on you to support media reforms that are crucial for Ukraine evolvement as a democracy. The list of these reforms was worked out by the media association “Reanimation Package of Reforms” (RPR). In particular, it includes improvement of legislation regulating television and radio broadcasting and functioning of the National Council on television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine in compliance with the European standards and the practical needs of the audience; assistance in the elaboration of the efficient practice of prosecution for the violation of journalists’ rights; working out and adopting the bill on financial transparency of the mass media; introduction of freewill registration of web-based editions, promotion of forming up of a steadfast mechanism for co-regulation of the media industry, etc.
Step 5. Media deoligarchisation
Ukraine needs to put in place as soon as possible efficacious means to counteract the pressure of media owners-oligarchs and politicians onto mass media content, to put an end to manipulations, corruption and give the mass media the possibility to build independent editorial lines. To this end, it is necessary to adopt and to implement a number of media reforms, in particular the law on audiovisual services, which had been worked out by the media community. And also to demonstrate a clear political will and to stand up to all attempts of the oligarchs to administer the content of the mass media.
Step 6. Independence of the national regulator
We call on to appoint to the media regulator the competent persons who are independent from the oligarchic groups, the media owners and who are ready preeminently to apply the law for the benefit of the general public, viewers and listeners. The media community, for its part, is willing to nominate the candidates to the National Council who are professionals indeed and have confidence in the environment. We also urge the new authorities to make every effort to ensure the independence and professionalism of the National Council, which should be formed in a transparent and democratic manner, in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and recommendations of international institutions.
Step 7. Information Security
Ukraine is under constant influence and threats of information and propaganda attacks from the part of Russia. We urge you, as the head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, to guarantee the preservation and continuation of measures aimed to protect the information space from hybrid aggression. The price of agreements with Russia as to the putting the end to the war and liberating of the occupied territories should not be a loss of informational sovereignty and Ukraine’s involvement in the Russian media and mental space.
Media movement also encourages you to meet the journalists of the media movement in the near future to discuss the issues that had been raised.
To remind, on February 5th, several Ukraine TV channels, radio companies, printed press outlets and web-based editions and media NGOs launched a media initiative “Media for conscious choice” aimed to ensure for Ukraine citizens the possibility to elect the head of state and the parliament on the ground of complete and trustful information.
The first signatories of the media movement memorandum were: UA: Pershy, Ukraynske Radio, Hromadske radio, Ukrinform, Interfax-Ukraine, Liga.net, Dzerkalo tyzhdnya weekly, Novoe Vrema daily, Censor.net, The 5th TV channel, Ukrayinsky Tyzhden, Opinion, several regional mass media, Independent media council, Detektor Media, The Institute of mass information, Internews Ukraine, Center for democracy and rule of law, Souspilinist Foundation, Independent association of TV and radio broadcasters, The Donetsk institute of information, The Institute of democracy named of Pylyp Orlyk and other media institutions and individual journalists, in total 70 members adhered the media initiative.
To join the Media Movement or to support it, please contact our coordinator Vadym Misky : firstname.lastname@example.org.
To remind, on June 6th, 2014, the journalist movement “Stop censorship!” addressed similar appeal to newly elected president at that time Petro Poroshenko.