N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
Ukrainian journalists’ organisations are sounding the alarm. The new Media Law signed by President Zelensky kills media freedom in Ukraine. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) call on the European Commission and to convince the Ukrainian authorities to review the law, in consultation with the Ukrainian journalist’ organisations, NUJU and IMTUU. These two representative unions denounce multiple problematic provisions, starting with the political dependence of the state regulator and the widening of the spectrum of extrajudicial sanctions against the media.
Zelensky signed into law a controversial bill that expands the government’s regulatory power over news media. The new law allows the state media regulator, the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council (NTRBC) to regulate print and online media as well as internet, television, radio and online platforms such as YouTube and social networks. It also provides the state media regulator with the right to fine media outlets, revoke their licenses and block certain publications without a court ruling. The NTRBC is a constitutional body. Half of its members are appointed by the president, and half by the parliament, which is controlled by the pro-presidential majority. The state media regulator obviously falls under the total control of the President.
EFJ President Maja Sever said, ‘A state regulator with such sanctioning powers, without even going trough a court, cannot be under the full control of the government. Journalists’ unions were not consulted on the latest version of the law’. IFJ President Dominique Pradalie declared, “Media freedom and pluralism are in danger in Ukraine. We join the EFJ in asking the European Commission to convince the Ukrainian authorities to reform the legislation.’
There can not be democracy without independent journalism and a free press. Not in Russia, not in Turkey, but also not in Ukraine. Nowhere!