Espreso. Global

Ukrainian journalists urge authorities to stop putting pressure on public broadcaster

30 April, 2024 Tuesday
15:00

After a series of information and institutional attacks, the Mediarukh community of Ukrainian journalists calls to stop the pressure on Suspilne, the Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine

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This is stated in the appeal of media representatives regarding the pressure on Suspilne.

The journalists noted that over the past week, a series of informational and institutional attacks on Suspilne Ukraine took place in the public space and listed them:

  • People's Deputy, member of the Servant of the People faction Mariana Bezuhla spread false information on social media about the status of the broadcaster, its budget, and the alleged "remuneration" of the Supervisory Board members, who have actually been working for free since the creation of UA:PBC JSC;

  • The idea of depriving UA:PBC of evening prime time, which has the largest audience reach, is being promoted among the channels producing the "United News" telethon. As of today, evening primes are produced by each broadcaster producing the telethon in turn;

  • The Ministry of Finance has provided UA:PBC with UAH 1.5 billion of funding in 2025. This amount is UAH 350 million less than the broadcaster's budget in 2024 and more than 75% less than the amount guaranteed by the law, which will put the broadcaster on the brink of survival.

"We believe that the coincidence of these events is not accidental, and we express our strong support for Public Broadcasting, which is an example of one of the most successful reforms implemented after the Revolution of Dignity. This is confirmed by numerous monitoring reports and testimonies of both Ukrainian and international organizations. This is also noted by the broadcaster's audience itself, whose trust in the broadcaster increased from 60.5% in 2020 to 86% in 2023.," the statement reads.

The Mediarukh journalists add that during martial law, monitoring of compliance with journalistic standards in the "United News" marathon shows that among all broadcasters, Suspilne is the most balanced in giving the floor to representatives of political factions in the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine. Thus, during the war, Suspilne properly fulfills its role of informing the public about events of significant public interest.

Media professionals also point out that the broadcaster is operating under severe underfunding, while the state spares no expense in creating new TV channels and radio stations. Contrary to the law, not once since the establishment of the Suspilne Ukraine in 2017 has the amount of funds equal to the guaranteed funding rate of 0.2% of the total state budget expenditures been allocated for its activities.

"The standards of institutional work of Public Broadcasting are determined by the Council of Europe and include independence in top management appointments, non-interference in editorial policy and guarantees of proper funding. According to Part 2 of Article 3 of the Law of Ukraine “On Public Media”, it is prohibited for state authorities and local self-government bodies, their officials and employees, as well as non-governmental organizations, to interfere with Suspilne's activities to establish censorship, prior control and illegal influence on the content of information disseminated by Suspilne," the appeal emphasizes.

The Media Movement draws the attention of MPs, government officials and representatives of commercial media companies and productions to the fact that any pressure on the broadcaster is unacceptable. This includes pressure on editorial policy, financial pressure, and the dissemination of unverified or inaccurate information.

The community of journalists calls for:

  • The President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy, and the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech - to make efforts to preserve the evening primes of the "United News" telethon for Suspilne Ukraine;

  • The Servant of the People faction - to respond to the false statements of MP Mariana Bezuhla;

  • The Ministry of Finance of Ukraine - to comply with the norms on the level of funding for Suspilne Ukraine, and in the event that it is impossible to provide one hundred percent funding, to hold consultations with the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine to determine the level of expenditures for 2025 that will allow supporting the vital activity of Suspilne Ukraine;

  • Embassies of Ukraine's partner countries - to increase attention to preserving freedom of speech in Ukraine as a pillar of democracy and the public broadcaster as a flagship of media reforms in Ukraine.

The appeals were addressed to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk, Head of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction David Arakhamia, Head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy Mykyta Poturayev, Head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, and embassies of Ukraine's partner countries.

Mediarukh is a community that has been uniting journalists from leading Ukrainian media, investigative journalists, and experts from media NGOs since 2019. In total, more than 100 organizations and individual journalists have joined the Mediarukh. 

 

Suspilne Ukraine's response to the MP's accusations

Yesterday, on April 29, a response from Suspilne Ukraine was published on the website of the media outlet, where it reminded that the existence of independent Suspilne Public Broadcasting is one of the prerequisites for Ukraine's accession to the European Union. The reform of Public Broadcasting began immediately after the Revolution of Dignity. The success of the transformation of the state media into Public Broadcasting has been repeatedly recognized by the Council of Europe, the European Commission, USAID and other international organizations.

“Suspilne Ukraine has an independent editorial policy and governing bodies independent of the government – the Managing Board and Supervisory Board – and continues to grow and improve.

There are no commissioned materials, plugola or manipulations on the air of Suspilne Ukraine. Suspilne News operates according to the highest standards of journalism. This has been repeatedly confirmed by the placement of Suspilne Ukraine on the "white list" of media, which is a sign of quality. Our slot in the United News telethon is the most balanced, according to independent experts,” the media writes. 

Suspilne addressed the heads of the Verkhovna Rada committees,  including:

  • the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Parliamentary Ethics and Administration of Verkhovna Rada’s Work, that they assess Ms Bezuhla's statements;

  • the Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy and the Committee on Freedom of Speech, that they consider attempts to put pressure and spread toxic narratives about the media company;

  • the Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union, that they assess attempts to undermine the reform, which was Ukraine's obligation under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, the EU-Ukraine Visa Facilitation Agreement, and Ukraine's commitment to the Council of Europe since 2005 (Resolution 1466 (2005)

“For all seven years of its existence, Suspilne Ukraine has been defending freedoms in Ukraine. Today, millions of Ukrainians trust us, and we work for them every day,” the statement reads.





 
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