European Federation of Journalists

Ukrainian radio faces uncertainty after license issues

The future of the Ukrainian broadcasting company “Radio Vesti” is uncertain after the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine delays the prolongation of their licenses in Kiev and Kharkov. The company sent the required documents on time in order to renew the licenses, which will expire on February 13 and 19, 2017 respectively. Nonetheless, the National Council isn’t certain on prolongation of the licenses due to the beneficiary issues.

Officially the beneficiaries of the broadcasting company are Denis Mozgovoy from Avdeevka and Tatiana Alexandrova from Donetsk, however, the National Council believes that the information is not clear enough. The head of the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting Yuriy Artemenko thinks that former Minister of revenue and fees Oleksandr Klymenko might be an ultimate beneficiary of “Radio Vesti”.

This is not the first incident between “Radio Vesti” and the National Council. Previously, the regulator refused to prolong the license for “Stylne Radio”, which was owned by the company. They also were denied two times the request on expansion of “Radio Vesti” coverage.

The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) remind to Ukrainian authorities that the right to freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. A State interference with this right is only permitted if it is prescribed by law, pursues a legitimate aim, is necessary in a democratic society and is proportionate to the legitimate aims pursued.

IFJ and EFJ believe that the alleged uncertainties regarding the beneficiaries of the company are not a reason to refuse to renew the licenses of Radio Vesti. “Ukrainian authorities should remind that media pluralism and diversity of media content are essential for the functioning of a democratic society.”

The European Court of Human Rights’ case law is clear: “In addition to its negative duty of non-interference, member States have a positive obligation to put in place an appropriate legislative and administrative framework to guarantee effective pluralism. The manner in which the licensing criteria are applied in the licensing process must provide sufficient guarantees against arbitrariness.”

Picture credit: Radio Vesti.