Politics 2021-07-15T04:58:02+03:00
Ukrainian news
International Experts Not Advising To Introduce Online Media Regulation, Talking About National Council "Polit

International Experts Not Advising To Introduce Online Media Regulation, Talking About National Council "Politicization"

NUJU, bill on media, Jean-François Furnémont, Krisztina Rozgonyi, bill No. 2693-d

International experts of the Council of Europe, who took part in two online discussions on bill No. 2693-d "On Media" submitted to the Verkhovna Rada, do not advise Ukraine to introduce regulation of online media.

And the formation of the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting is considered extremely politicized.

The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) presents the arguments of authoritative experts Jean-François Furnémont from Belgium and Krisztina Rozgonyi from Hungary, translated from English by Gordon and Ukrainian News Agency.

The countries of the European Union do not regulate the content of online media.

This was stated by Council of Europe expert Jean-François Furnémont on July 8 during an online discussion "Bill On Media 2693-d: discussion of regulation of online media and platforms for sharing information and video".

"It is not common practice in Europe to include online media in the regulation of audiovisual media. I would not recommend doing so. If this happens, regulation should be kept to a minimum. Simple registration is to know who is behind the resource, in case of illegal activity,” the Belgian expert said.

No EU regulatory document mentions online media, Furnémont added.

"Of course, there should be no further obligations on content imposed by online media, as this is not a European practice and it goes beyond AVMS, a directive that only applies to audiovisual media," the expert stressed.

Describing the bill On Media, he stressed that many of its wordings were unclear and imprecise and needed to be clarified or revised.

These include sanctions against the media, property requirements (taking into account the work of the party, trade union and other press belonging to any associations and unions), registration and licensing issues.

In his opinion, the paragraphs covering the topics related to the Communist and National Socialist regimes should be removed from the bill.

He also stressed that the bill should primarily be aimed at protecting the media's right to self-expression, and not focus on sanctions against the press.

Council of Europe consultant Krisztina Rozgonyi recommends that Ukraine postpone the introduction of online media regulation and wait for the EU to develop and test solutions in this area.

She stated this during the online discussion "Bill On Media 2693-d: discussion of the legal status of the national regulator and co-regulation", which took place on July 10.

The consultant stressed that only two countries in Europe have adopted legislation governing online media and, in particular, the use of hate speech in this area.

But in Germany, the law, which came into force in 2019, is now under revision.

And in France, a separate law giving the regulator restrictive and prohibitive powers over online media and their content has been declared unconstitutional by the local Constitutional Court.

"This law was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of France. And the European Commission warned France that it contradicts European norms," Rozgonyi stressed.

She added that the European Commission has just announced public discussions on the adoption of the "Digital Single Act", which should regulate the provision of online services, including the provision of information.

The Council of Europe consultant called on Ukraine to wait with the introduction of online media regulation in order to be able to weigh these decisions and apply European practices in this area when they are developed and tested in practice.

"The field of regulation of online media and online platforms is dangerous now, and I definitely recommend and suggest trying to avoid pitfalls in this area, and try to wait to see what solutions and best practices are emerging right now. And be very careful when expanding media regulation," Rozgonyi summed up.

Council of Europe consultant Jean-François Furnémont also believes that the procedure for appointing members of the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting, which is proposed in the bill On Media, to whom it is proposed to delegate the power to regulate all media, is too politicized.

He also announced this during the online discussion "Bill On Media 2693-d: discussion of the legal status of the national regulator and co-regulation."

Furnémont stressed that the independence of the National Council should be carefully protected by this law.

"In terms of appointment, of course, there is some protection (independence of the National Council - ed.) and a detailed procedure, which we welcome, but the appointment is still very political. Eight members of the National Council are appointed by two different political bodies. And I recommend approving any measures on involvement of POs (public organizations - ed.), academic circles in process of appointment of eight members of the National Council," the expert said.

He added that it is also necessary to take measures to limit political influence on candidates for the council members, which is not yet in the current version of the bill.

Furnémont also advocates for maximum financial independence of the National Council and strengthening the non-budgetary sphere of its financing, such as, for example, license fees.

Speaking about the terminology of the law, the expert stressed that the law should avoid the definition of "state control", speaking of the powers of the National Council to regulate the media sphere.

"The regulator should uphold freedom of expression, but certainly not introduce state control over the media," Furnémont said.

Both discussions were organized by the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy in cooperation with the Project "The European Union and the Council of Europe work together to support media freedom in Ukraine" and the public organization "Human Rights Platform" with the financial support of Counterpart Int.

Earlier, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine demanded to withdraw the bill On Media from the Council due to systemic threats to freedom of speech.

"The bill On Media is not a law to protect the media. It is not about strengthening protection, not about the rights of journalists, not about state guarantees of media independence (including economic independence!), not about the responsibility of officials and politicians for pressure on journalists. This is a bill on the protection of the government from journalists, on sanctions, on control over the dissemination of information and opinion," reads the statement of the largest journalistic organization in Ukraine.

The bill was also opposed by Ukrainian journalists, who signed a collective appeal to the President and Parliament.

According to experts, the vaguely worded requirements for the media give public authorities the power to “establish the truth.”

There is no doubt that such powers will be used to control the expression of political opinions, criticism of political forces, politicians, and officials.

But international agreements should not restrict the expression of conflicting views, provided that there are no calls for violence or discrimination.

The National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting, whose powers it is proposed to expand to such an extent that they will obviously go beyond the limits set by the Constitution of Ukraine, will remain a political body, the selection of candidates for which will be even more arbitrary.

The bill provides for the possibility of blocking anyone on the Internet, even if it is not a media outlet and therefore does not fall under the competence of the National Council, as well as the possibility of revoking media registration on very broad grounds, which may ban all media content indefinitely.

According to experts, this is a disproportionate measure to restrict the right to freedom of expression, which can be used as a tool of censorship," the statement said.