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Statement by Ukrainian mass media organizations on non-extension of licenses of "112" channel

01.10.2019, 15:40

On September 26, 2019, the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine did not extend broadcasting licenses for five regional TV channels broadcasting under the “112 Ukraina” logo. In compliance with its program concept, the TV channels had to broadcast in regional entertainment and news format. But these frequencies were given for the national news channel "112 Ukraina" , and this is a violation of license terms.

Ukrainian media organizations have to remind that the 2011 Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting Competition was held with major violations. Instead of real and important for its towns and regions broadcasters that have been broadcasting since decades, digital broadcasting licenses have allocated to newly created "shell companies" with a registered capital of less than UAH 1,000: "Novy TV format", "Partner TV", "Ariadna TV"," TV Vybir" and" TV Lider”. In 2013, these licensees merged and began broadcasting under the 112 Ukraine brand, thereby they arbitrarily changed its program concepts from regional to national broadcasting, and thus they deprived millions of television viewers in the regions of access to the content that provided regional specificities.

Ukrainian media organizations draw attention of international and Ukrainian institutions that the decision not to extend broadcasting licenses to those regional broadcasters, which have been jointly broadcasting under the “112 Ukraina” brand, is not related to the political accent of the content of these broadcasters. It is caused by serious misuse of the specified regional broadcasters, who have manipulated their programming concepts and systematically violated the competition and licensing terms, ignoiring the sanctions of the regulator.

In this case, it is no question of revoking the license of "112" TV channel: it still has a valid license for satellite broadcasting. The channel also continues to broadcast on cable, IPTV networks.

We emphasize that a fair regulatory field is indispensable for every mass media outlet, without exception. Combining licenses in one territorial category in order to artificially circumvent the terms of the competition is not only a formal violation of the law, but also the creation of a non-competitive environment in the media market. The employees and owners of “112” TV channel have to admit that over these last years, its digital broadcasting has been infringed, and the regulator's decision is more than fair. Instead, journalists should focus on quality editorial policy and continue broadcasting in satellite-cable format.

In particular, we call on international organizations such as the IFJ and the OSCE to carefully clarify the context and to verify the facts before releasing statements on the condition of freedom of expression in Ukraine, since unsupported allegations call into question the impartiality, professionalism and reputation of such organizations.

 

Independent Media Council

Institute of Mass Information

Detector Media

“Suspilnist” Foundation

"Internews-Ukraine"

Center for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM)

Independent Broadcasting Association

Institute of Democracy named of Philyp Orlyk

***

Background information

On April 15, 2011, by decision # 824, the National Council launched a competition for broadcast license on free frequencies of multichannel TV network MX-5 in DVB-T2 in a standard (MPEG-4) for the territorial broadcasting category - regional and local broadcasting, taking into account the decision of the National Council “On Approval of Competition Terms” of 8.04.2011 # 823. On August 16 and 17, 2011, the National Council adopted a number of decisions on licensing of the newly created LLC "New TV Format", LLC "Ariadna TV", LLC "Partner TV", LLC “Lider TV” and LLC “TV Vybir”, with respective content, with stipulated category of broadcasting "Territorial Broadcasting Category: Regional one." Thus, these companies were licensed at the competition for regional and local digital broadcasting, and not for national-wide broadcasting.

On November 5, 2013, the National Council adopted a decision to reissue licenses for the broadcasting companies which got broadcasting rights at the regional multiplex MX-5 (LLC "Novy TV format", "Ariadna TV" LLC, "Partner TV", "Lider TV" and LLC "TV Vybir") " due to some changes of the source data, specifying in the license: the output data (logo, signal letters, emblem) ... the emblem" 112 UKRAINE "(decision # 2070, 2071, 2081, 2084, 2088). After reissuing of new licences all five regional companies began broadcasting the program of the “112 Ukraina” TV channel for nationwide audience, which was a gross violation of the competitive conditions in terms of territorial broadcasting category.

On August 21, 2014, the National Council issued a warning to all five companies as a result of the unscheduled audit of the LLC “Novy TV format” and the audit results of other companies from the “112 Ukraina” network, which identified some significant changes of the format and program concept, as it is compared to its licenses. A warning was also issued for the “Television and radio company 112-TV” (satellite broadcasting). In particular, those companies increased the volume of news programs (from 2 hours 30 minutes a day to 23 hours 13 minutes a day). At the same time, there were no cultural, educational programs (15 minutes a day), entertaining programs (3.5 hours a day) and film screening (11 hours 51 minutes a day), and the children targeting programs were aired at night. The format has been changed from entertainment with movie screening for an news format.

During the period of activity of these companies, the National Council applied to each of them eight sanctions, which were valid and were not cancelled by the court:

During the period of activity of these companies, the National Council applied to each of them eight sanctions, which are valid and not canceled by the court:

  1. warning 08/21/14 - appealed, National Council won in first instance in 2015, appeal in 2016 and cassation in 2016;
  2. warning 26.03.15 - appeal, National Council won in first instance in 2016, appeal in 2016;
  3. warning 06/18/15 - appealed, National Council won in first instance in 2018, appeal in 2018;
  4. fine 23.07.15 - not paid and appealed against;
  5. claim for revocation of the license 03.09.2015;
  6. warning 05/10/2017;
  7. warning on 22.03.18;
  8. warning 09.19.

The systematic violations recorded by the National Council during the broadcasting of these five companies are related to the violation of the program concepts, stipulating regional broadcasting in an entertainment and news format, and in fact, this was the national news channel "112 Ukraina" which have been broadcasting on its frequencies.

In fact, September 26 is the last day of its license validity, after which they have to cease digital broadcasting.

September 26, is the last day of licenses of these five regional companies, after which they have to stop digital broadcasting. The National Council is to undertake tendering procedure for the vacant frequencies.

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