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Independence of public broadcaster under question – European media associations

16.06.2021, 15:30
Radio Liberty
Radio Liberty

Several European media institutions claimed about threat to the independence of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC) due to the statement of Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy head of the Office of the President. Interviewed by Interfax-Ukraine, Kyrylo Tymoshenko criticized the method of forming the supervisory board of the UA:PBC, which the majority is composed of NGOs members. The official said that the Chair of the Supervisory Board could be appointed by the government, as Detektor Media reported.

European Broadcasting Union, Association of European Journalists, International/European Federation of Journalists found the UA:PBC could not stay independent and would be exposed to political pressure, as it is said at the Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists of the Council of Europe.

“Critical voices maintain that changing the structure of the Supervisory Board in that way could challenge its independence and expose UA:PBC's editorial policy to political influence”, as to the Platform report.

The associations referred to the Recommendation No. R(96)10 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the guarantees of independence of public service broadcasting, which “should be directly guaranteed”.

It will be recalled that in the analysis of Ukrainian public broadcasting legislation DGI (2015) 3, the Directorate General for Human Rights and the Rule of Law of the Council of Europe points out: “The Chairman of the Supervisory Board should be elected from among the members appointed by non-governmental organizations. It is important to prevent an undue political influence onto the work of the supervisory board. ” It is said also that "in order to meet the requirements of the Council of Europe, the number of political representatives must always be inferior to the number of members of civil society".

Earlier, Kyrylo Tymoshenko said that "... there are some examples of when the public broadcaster is not neutral, and it is voicing the position of other political forces."

He also found it not correct that the majority of the UA:PBC supervisory board are the persons from non-governmental organizations, while the Verkhovna Rada's representation is in the minoritarian there: “I know many examples of other countries, when the government appoints the chairman of the supervisory board of the public broadcaster or the supervisory board itself, or has a quota, because they understand that the state budget allocates a lot of money for this and ministries are often dissatisfied with the way they are spending that money.

The UA:PBC explained that the words of the Deputy Head of the Presidenial Office about alleged biasness of the broadcaster was not true. The UA:PBC cited several studies which evidenced its impartiality, namely citing “White List” of high quality mass media, where the broadcaster took the 8th position. He mentioned also IMI quarterly monitoring, according to which more than 96% of news items on its news portal had no violations of professional stadards of journalism.

The Council of Europe's Platform to promote protection of journalism and safety of journalists is a public space aimed at protecting journalists, providing a better response to threats and violence against media professionals and creating an early warning and response mechanism within the Council of Europe.

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