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Draft Law On Media Introduced at Parliamentary Committee Meeting  

November 13 – The chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy, Oleksandr Tkachenko, and deputy chair Mykyta Poturayev, publicly presented the concept of a draft Law On Media at the open Committee’s meeting in Kyiv. The draft law is currently being developed by a working group within the Committee.

Ukrainian media watchdog Detector Media (DM) analyzed the main provisions of the law, and said the overall concept looks up-to-date and reasonable. In particular, the draft law proposes the establishment of new criteria to regulate the media sector in Ukraine, improve ownership transparency, protect children from harmful media content, determine the rules of media during wartime, and introduce joint government-media co-regulation of the sector. The law will consider media to be not only TV/radio stations and the printed press, as defined in current laws, but also online media, social networks, and OTT-services (over-the-top media services such as Netflix, Prime, YouTube etc.). Many proposals for this new law were presented by Tkachenko and Poturayev with the checkmarks “questions for discussion.”

The draft law contains a section dedicated to combating disinformation. There is an attempt to offer a “whip and gingerbread,” as Detector Media said in its report. The whip is the introduction of criminal liability for disinformation, while the gingerbread is the strengthening of physical and economic protections for journalists. In particular, it considers obliging media companies to provide adequate protections for journalists’ lives and health, and in case journalists are fired as a result of pressure or interference with their journalistic activities, to guarantee that affected journalists will receive social welfare or be eligible for employment in public service media.

The draft bill stipulates media co-regulation. Although a small amount of information was presented at the November 13 Committee meeting, co-regulation will be included, and the law is designed to ensure the validity and objectivity of decisions made by the National Council regarding media content. According to the draft law, the code of conduct and expert opinions should be considered by the National Council when assessing content quality.

The law proposes the establishment of a public association with non-profit status to oversee the media sector. Detector Media asked about funding for this association, and was told one option under consideration is contributions from its founders, which DM feels would create the risk that the association would turn into a club of the well-off media licensees.

In December 2019, the Committee plans to allocate three days to publicly discuss the draft law, which the working group hopes to then finalize.

More on Detector Media in Ukrainian.