European Federation of Journalists

Ukraine: Authorities should withdraw the draft media law

Picture credit: Genya Savilov / AFP.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) shares the call made by its Ukrainian affiliates, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) for the Ukrainian authorities to bring the media legislation in line with European standards of press freedom.

The EFJ, NUJU and IMTUU welcome the decision of the European Union Heads of State and Government to grant Ukraine the status of an EU candidate country. The EFJ and its affiliates in Ukraine recall that this implies a thorough revision of the Ukrainian media legislation.

The current draft media law, introduced in 2020 by MP Mykyta Poturaiev, contains many provisions that are contrary to European values. It proposes to give arbitrary and disproportionate regulatory powers to the national regulator, the National Council on Broadcasting, which would have authority not only over audiovisual media, but also over print and digital media.

“The coercive regulation envisaged by the bill and in the hands of a regulator totally controlled by the government is worthy of the worst authoritarian regimes. It must be withdrawn. A state that would apply such provisions simply has no place in the European Union,” insisted EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez. “Media regulation should be implemented by a body independent of the government and its objective should be media independence, not media control,” Gutiérrez added, calling on the Ukrainian authorities to enter into a frank dialogue with the representative organisations of journalists, NUJU and IMTUU, and to seek advice and expertise from the Venice Commission at the Council of Europe and the European Union services.

“NUJU calls on the Ukrainian authorities to withdraw this bill and to draft a specific bill for the regulation of audiovisual media, in line with the EU directives. We are ready to dialogue with the authorities to draft a new media law in line with European legal standards”, said NUJU Presidident Sergiy Tomilenko.

“The authors of this bill claim that it should be adopted immediately in order to bring Ukraine closer to Europe! But in reality, this bill separates us from Europe. It will make the life of journalists in Ukraine impossible!”, said IMTUU President Serhiy Shturkhetskyy.

This statement was produced by EFJ as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.