Human rights organizations call on the VR to ensure the transparency during the revisions to the law on media
Multiple human rights NGOs call on the Verkhovna Rada to ensure the transparency and inclusiveness of the revisions of the draft law "On Media" while it is being prepared for the second reading.
The according statement was published on the website of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Ukraine.
The authors of the statement note that the draft law implies, among other things, introducing significant amendments to the Electoral Code of Ukraine which relate to the media sphere and deserve to be supported.
The Parliament's members are urged to preserve all the conceptual amendments to the Electoral Code while preparing the draft law for the second reading, as well as to make the proposed amendments public to all interested parties in advance.
Here is the full text of the statement:
On 30 August 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in the first reading adopted Draft Law Number 2693-d “On Media” (hereinafter – the draft law).
The draft law aims to replace the outdated legislation in the field of media, bringing it in line with EU law and considering technological development in the audiovisual field and the emergence of new types of media.
Among other things, the draft law introduces significant amendments to the Election Code of Ukraine. In particular, the draft law:
- guarantees unimpeded media access to all public events related to elections, and to the information contained in the candidates’ registration documents;
- establishes clearer requirements for the information disseminated by the media about the course of the election process;
- directly provides for pre-election debates and discussions, and specifies the requirements for such debates (including, provides for the same cost of participation in debates for all subjects of the election process);
- clearly separates the control powers over the media coverage of the election process and the implementation of pre-election campaigning between the election commissions and the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting (hereinafter – the National Council), and the National Council to submit a report following the elections;
- establishes the definition of hidden election campaigning;
- extends the requirements and restrictions on pre-election campaigning to online campaigning, including on social media and other information-sharing platforms;
- allows pre-election campaigning on voting day (with certain restrictions);
- brings the provisions on the right of reply in compliance with European standards and best practices, in particular, foresees cases in which the media has the right to refuse;
- sets the minimum duration of airtime for campaigning at the level of 60 seconds, which will increase the level of quality and content of pre-election campaign materials;
- expands the list of restrictions on the content of the election campaign, prohibiting, in particular, the distribution of materials with signs of sexism, content harmful to children, with the participation of persons who pose a threat to the national media space;
- provides for the creation of the Expert Council on pre-election campaign issues at the National Council.
If the amendments to the Election Code proposed by the draft law are adopted, they will contribute to ensuring equal conditions in the implementation of pre-election campaigning for all subjects of the election process. In addition, it will bring the relevant provisions of the Election Code in line with European standards and best practices and ensure more effective state control over pre-election campaigning and its financing, considering technological development in the audiovisual field. The draft law also proposes for the first time to comprehensively regulate online campaigning. In view of the above, the proposed amendments deserve support.
The amendments to the draft law submitted following the first reading will be further discussed in the responsible parliamentary Committee and brought for consideration of the plenary.
To preserve the achievements in information support of the election process and regulation of pre-election campaigning, IFES Ukraine and other signatories to this statement consider it necessary to emphasize the following:
- When preparing the draft law “On Media” for the second reading, all substantial amendments to the Election Code should be preserved, which does not exclude the possibility of their technical revision.
- The preparation by factions, groups, and individual MPs of additional amendments to the draft law should be carried out openly, including through early publication of the proposed amendments for all interested parties.
- Before the amendments to the draft law are considered by the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Humanitarian and Information Policy together with the Committee on the Organization of State Power, Local Self-Government, Regional Development and Urban Planning, it would be worthwhile to organize an expert public discussion (round table) aimed at their meaningful discussion, in part of regulating the information support of elections and pre-election campaigning. This will ensure that the positions of interested parties are considered when amendments are processed based on the results of such a discussion.
International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
NGO “Digital Security Laboratory”
NGO “Institute of Mass Information”
NGO “Detector Media”
NGO “Media Reform Center” (StopFake)
NGO “Ukrainian Institute of Media and Communication”
NGO “Center for Democracy and Rule of Law”
NGO “Human Rights Platform”
Civil Movement CHESNO
Civil Network OPORA
Independent Media Council
Pylyp Orlyk Institute of Democracy
Help us be even more cool!