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Relevant parliament committee backed finalized media bill

02.07.2020, 10:59
Photo credit: legal-support.top
Photo credit: legal-support.top

The Verkhovna Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy recommended the revised draft law “On Media” №2693-d to be adopted by the Parliament in the first reading and the alternative draft law №2693-2 to be rejected. Such decisions were passed by a majority vote at a the committee meeting on July 1, as Detektor Media reported.

The revised draft law №2693-d has not yet been registered and has not been officially published on the Verkhovna Rada's website. Bill №2693-2 was registered by the representatives of the European Solidarity faction on May 29.

No representatives of “European Solidarity” attended the committee meeting, since they came to support the leader of the faction Petro Poroshenko in court the same day.

Members of the working group and MPs from the "Servant of the People" worked on the revised version of the bill "On Media". The chairman of the committee, co-author of the bill Mykyta Poturayev ("Servant of the People") said that the law "is supported by the vast majority of industry." At the same time, he added, "there are new media outlets that (but not all!) do not want any responsibility to Ukrainian society."

First Deputy Chairman of the Committee Iryna Konstankevych (parliamentary group "For the Future"), although she was a co-author of the first version of the bill, commented the revised version on, in which "there are many not concerted issues." Some of such issues she named:

  1. Uncertainty of the term of extension of the powers of the old members of the National Council until appointment of new ones. Konstankevych reminded that since the summer of 2019, three members of the National Council have been working for an indefinite term. And she suggested that the bill had a definte period, which cannot be exceeded by former members of the National Council until the appointment of new members.
  2. Principles of forming of the National Council, according to which MPs’ groups do not have the opportunity to delegate their candidates to the National Council.
  3. Status and remuneration of members of the National Council and its staff. The bill provides for the salary of a member of the National Council in the amount of 75 subsistence minimums (over 164 thousand UAH as of July 2020): this amount, according to Ms. Konstankevich, receives a "unit of 10 military", which is not commensurate. She also proposed to remove from the bill the rules on remuneration of employees of the National Council’s secretariate. In her opinion, it is sufficient to have the provision that equates the positions of civil servants of the National Council and the positions of employees of the Government’s secretariat.
  4. Powers of the National Council to approve with the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU) based on the methodology for determining markets in the field of audiovisual media. According to the MP, this contradicts the norms of the law on the AMCU, which alone has the competence to study the market and to define its limits, as well as to determine the monopolist.
  5. Powers of the National Council to approve standard terms of contracts for the supply of electronic communications services for broadcasting with the use of radio frequency resources and to approve the maximum frontier tariffs for such services. Iryna Konstankevych considered it inexpedient to provide these powers to the National Council.
  6. The MP found that the provisions on licensing and registration should be unified. She did not detail exactly how.

Mykita Poturayev replied to Iryna Konstankevych that three members of the National Council continue to perform their duties indefinitely due to the unforeseen pandemic: “The problem is not in the law, but in the fact that we cannot hold a competition, we cannot complete it. Candidates have already passed a special test, we could have conducted it, if not the pandemic. We also cannot hold competitions for those people who want to work at our secretariat. This is a problem. I agree that a deadline should be set, but saying that it can be extended in case of emergency. "

Regarding the status of the National Council, he reminded that, according to European colleagues, the bill, on the contrary, did not sufficiently ensure the independence of the National Council.

He also explained why the National Council confer powers to set tariffs for telecommunication services in the speech: "We have a monopoly" Zeonbud "is the BRT Concern, they have a row that lasts more than a year , this is dead end. That is why we propose to give the regulator the opportunity to resolve such disputes. "

Representatives of the “Opposition Platform For Life” faction criticized the bill. They referred to letters from the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine and several dozen online editors, bloggers and representatives of regional publications calling for the bill to be withdrawn , a critical conclusion from the Verkhovna Rada's Main Scientific and Expert Department submitted as to the previous edition of the bill. The head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine Serhiy Tomilenko added that "the law will make new problems for newspapers and online media."

After the discussion, the members of the committee by a majority of votes supported the bill №2693-d and recommended to the Verkhovna Rada to adopt it in the first reading as a basis.

Bill №2693-2 was not actually discussed by the committee members, as its authors were not even present at the meeting. No member of the committee voted in favor of the bill, and by a majority vote, MPs recommended that the Rada reject it.

As IMI reported, on June 19, Media Detector published a draft of the draft law #2693 “On Media” prepared by the working group in its new edition.

On June 18, the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy decided to postpone consideration of the draft law № 2693 “On Media” in the new wording prepared by the committee and draft law 2693-2 “On Media” to July 1. 

The updated text of the №2693 project is not yet available on the parliament's website. Project №2693-2 was registered on the parliament's website on May 29.

On May 19, the Verkhovna Rada sent Bill №2693 "On Media" to the Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy for revision.

In April, MP from the "Servant of the People” Oleksander Tkachenko said that the Bill No. 2693 "On Media" will be amended and one of its sections dealing with online media activities to be redrafted.

As IMI reported, on February 5, the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech by the majority of votes of the representatives of the "Servant of the People" faction supported the bill No. 2693 "On Media" and recommended that the Parliament approve it in the first reading. However, the committee did not endorse the alternative bill # 2693-1 "On Media", sponsored by the European Solidarity faction.

As IMI reported, on January 17, the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy recommended that the Parliament adopt the bill No. 2693 “On Media” as a basis.

The new legislative act should become a comprehensive document that will replace several media laws: on television and radio broadcasting, printed press in Ukraine, news agencies, National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting, state support for mass media and social protection of journalists, about the procedure for coverage of activities of state and local self-government bodies in Ukraine by mass media.

The Center for Democracy and Rule of Law called on the parliamentary profile committee and parliament to hold efficacious discussion and to consider amendments to the media bill and to pass a quality law in the first half of 2020. The Ukrainian Internet Association (UIA) has suggested to the parliamentary committees to report out the draft law No. 2693 to its draftsmen for revision. UIA drew attention to a number of novelties of the bill, which, in the opinion of UIA experts, posed "significant threats not only to the mass media, but also at the domain of electronic communications of Ukraine".

On January 15, a group of MPs from the European Solidarity faction have registered an alternative media bill No. 2693-1.

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