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A draft decree on the resumption of "Espreso," Priamyy, and Channel 5 broadcasting registered in the Verkhovna Rada

16.06.2022, 13:14
Illustration: Priamyy channel
Illustration: Priamyy channel

On June 16, the Verkhovna Rada registered a draft decree №7470, which proposes to approve the statement on guarantees of freedom of speech and rule of law for journalists and the media as key criteria for Ukraine's accession to the European Union and call on the authorities to resume Espreso, Priamyy, and Channel 5 digital broadcasting.

The draft bill “On the Statement of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Ensuring Guarantees of Freedom of Speech and Rule of Law for Journalists and Mass Media as Key Criteria for Ukraine's Accession to the European Union” was registered by 10 MPs from the European Solidarity faction.

The explanatory note to the draft decree states that on April 14, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada approved a statement on the value of freedom of speech, guarantees for journalists and the media during martial law. Among other things, they stressed that one of the key tasks of the Ukrainian state should be to ensure the guarantees of freedom of speech, free reception, collection, and dissemination of information established by the Constitution of Ukraine, while taking into account the martial law restrictions. Any crimes against journalists or cases of technical disconnection of pro-Ukrainian TV channels from air should result in a strong response from the authorities and bringing the offenders to justice.

The initiators of the bill note that in the same statement, the Verkhovna Rada called on all public authorities, including law enforcement agencies, as well as local authorities, to protect the rights of journalists and the media during martial law, to promptly respond to violations of their rights and to guarantee freedom of speech, as it is one of the most important features of a democratic society.

"However, this call was not taken into account by the authorities, the problem remained unresolved, and as a result, Ukraine's compliance with the Copenhagen criteria required for EU candidate status is at serious risk. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine must respond to this risk, which is why it is proposed to adopt this decree," the explanatory note reads.

As IMI reported, on April 4, Channel 5, "Priamyy," and "Espreso" announced that on April 4 in the morning the Broadcasting, Radiocommunications, and Television Concern (BRTC) had shut down the broadcasting of these TV channels in T2 digital network.

Digital television provider "Zeonbud," which is currently subject to the governmental BRT Concern, is not aware of the reasons for "Espreso," "Priamyy," and Channel 5 being shut down.

The National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting has announced that it has not approved of the decision to shut down the "Priamyy," Channel 5, and "Espreso" channels, and does not have a mandate to do so.

On May 9, the State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine explained that the reason for shutting off the digital broadcasting of "Espreso," Priamyy, and Channel 5 was an implementation of the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine regarding the broadcast of a joint telethon.

The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine said that shutting channels off from digital broadcasting is not within the ministry's jurisdiction.

The adviser to the head of the President's Office Mykhailo Podolyak believes that the channels from the so-called Petro Poroshenko's pool (Channel 5, Priamyy, and "Espreso") were excluded from digital air because they were harmful due to the ex-president's "narcissism."

Channel 5 and Priamyy filed a lawsuit against the Broadcasting, Radiocommunications and Television Concern (BRTC) and the State Special Communications Service for being excluded from digital broadcasting.

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