The controversial law “On Media in Ukraine” was approved by the profile committee. Journalists and trade unions have already opposed him. The authors of the bill propose to strengthen control over media, toughen fines for the media and give more powers to the National Council.
Vesti.ua studied the bill and figured out how the authorities want to attack freedom of speech.
The committee gave the go-ahead
The Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy has considered the revised bill № 2693. According to the head of the committee Nikita Poturayev, the revised draft law is supported by the overwhelming majority of industry workers.
Poturayev stressed several times that they want to pass the law so that the media have the so-called «responsibility». This is logical, because the main feature of the document is to hold journalists accountable for any little thing.
Opposition factions suggested rejecting the bill because it strengthens state control and is not supported by most journalists and media. The National Union of Journalists said the law poses great risks to freedom of speech and will not solve problems, but create new ones.
The head of the NSJU Serhiy Tomilenko noted that instead of progressive legislation, Ukraine receives a document on maximum control over the media. Moreover, it will be controlled by a politically engaged body.
In the National Rada there is not a single representative directly from the media, journalists, defenders of freedom of speech. It is more focused on sanctions against the media than on protecting their interests and developing the market. Now they want to extend this «whip» to all media without exception, including Internet media, ”the document says.
As you can see, “Servants of the People” are determined to adopt the bill by the end of summer 2020, rejecting the opposition’s proposals. The committee approved the document solely thanks to the votes of the members of the mono-majority faction, which hints that the Office of the President is interested in the bill.
What will be punished for
The first thing the media can punish for is work without registration. Media of all kinds must register so that they can be conveniently monitored, fined and closed. Online media registration is voluntary, but detailed imprint must be published and updated regularly.
Natsrada will be able to start checking on the basis of any published information or on the complaint of a legal entity or individual. Roughly speaking, it is enough for an objectionable media outlet to publish any information that can be interpreted ambiguously, after which the National Council will be set on it.
As a result, inspections can reveal minor, significant and gross violations. The size of the fines looks impressive if big businessmen are not behind the media. Here are their amounts:
• for gross violations of the media will pay a fine in the amount of 25% of the license fee for licensees or from 10 to 75 times the minimum wage;
• for significant — 10% of the license fee or from 5 to 50 minimum wages;
• for minor violations — 5% of the collection or from one to 25 minimum wages.
In case of punishment, the print media must pay the same amount of minimum wages, but there is no need to transfer the percentage of the license fee. Online media will be punished with fines ranging from one to five times the minimum wage.
Various bureaucratic nuances are generally considered minor violations. This is late submission of documents, inaccuracies in the imprint. They also include violations of the requirements during mourning, broadcasting programs with interactive competitions, broadcasting films and programs with the participation of people that pose a threat to the national media space.
Significant violations are the broadcasting of films prohibited by the National Federation, pornography, violence, and discriminatory statements on the air. They will be fined for programs with instructions on how to create explosives, fortune telling, folk and alternative medicine, as well as information that can injure minors.
The deputies did not forget about the Ukrainian communist and national-socialist past. Broadcasting and publishing of the following information is considered a significant violation:
• in which the criminal nature of the communist and national socialist regimes is denied or justified;
• a positive image of persons holding leading positions in the Communist Party (the position of secretary of the district committee and above), the highest authorities and administration of the USSR, the Ukrainian SSR, other union and autonomous Soviet republics (except for cases related to the development of Ukrainian science and culture), workers Soviet state security bodies;
• justifies the activities of the Soviet state security agencies, the establishment of Soviet power on the territory of Ukraine or in separate administrative-territorial units;
• the persecution of the participants in the struggle for the independence of Ukraine in the XX century is justified;
• symbols of the communist and national socialist totalitarian regimes with the aim of justifying or denying their criminal nature.
If a laudatory response to the former head of the USSR Vladimir Shcherbytsky in terms of the development of Ukrainian football is accidentally sounded on the air, then this may become a reason for checking and applying sanctions. It turns out that it is better not to speak about the history of Ukraine in the XX century, because inadvertently one can not brand the secretary of the district committee with shame and get a fine.
With gross violations, everything is more or less clear. These are calls for a violent change of power, propaganda of terrorism. Refusal to submit documents on the ownership structure to the National Council is also considered a gross violation.
The law is spelled out in such a way that it is possible to check, punish and fine the media as quickly and simply as possible. For small media, on which opponents will incite the National Council, this will be a real challenge.
In the 90s, oligarchs and politicians closed down the media, seeking huge compensation in the courts for “libel”. Now it will be possible to «nightmare» if you actively cooperate with members of the National Council. The politician can “stimulate” the controlling body to punish the “wrong” media.
The most radical supporters of the bill are people from orbit Dmitry Razumkov and Nikita Poturayev. They wanted to pass the bill back in the days of «turbo mode».
People’s Deputy from the Servant of the People, Alexander Dubinsky, speaks out against the bill. He considers this document to be almost a manifestation of a dictatorship.
Dubinsky’s colleague Yuri Komelchuk has not yet decided whether he will support him. A number of his colleagues share the same opinion.
“For me, this story is 50-50. There are many great elements that will make media work easier. There are slippery issues, I want to study them together with the experts, ”says Komelchuk.
The intention of Poturayev’s team to pass the bill at all costs is frightening. Shortly before the local elections and the projected economic crisis, the media wants to take maximum control. The policy of Vladimir Zelensky resembles the actions of Leonid Kuchma not only by the multi-vector foreign policy, but also by the attitude towards the media, which he wants to limit and intimidate with fines as much as possible.
Oleg Tkachuk, Vesti