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A NOTE – Public broadcasting in Ukraine

April 16, 2016

The point of public broadcasting, and a national public broadcaster, is one of a public service – communicating with and engaging the citizen first and foremost.

To do so there are obviously several prerequisites, such as being broadcast nationally and having universal appeal across the national constituency.  Ergo a public broadcaster strives to be inclusive and reach majority and minorities alike, assisting in the creation of a national identity and sense of common purpose/community.  Thus the guidelines for a national public broadcaster are therefore liberating rather than restricting.

It is an entity either directly funded by the State, and/or universal payment, (a Licence Fee), in order to to be free of vested interests with regard to private funding.

As such its programming would seek to be qualitative and unbiased and measured that way, rather than by viewer numbers or advertising revenue – should there be any advertising at all.

So much so obvious.

no signal

One year ago, in April 2015, President Poroshenko signed into law the creation of Ukrainian public broadcaster and its remit.  It is a broadcaster that still does not exist as a legal entity, let along broadcast anything.

It is currently known as A NOTE, though it may well be given a different name (officially or otherwise) in due course.

The reason it doesn’t exist is that the State entities that were to shelter and assimilate as the new public broadcaster under a statutory umbrella as designated by the April 2015 law, are being “difficult”.  More precisely one of those entities is being “difficult”.  Ukrtelefilm apparently is somewhat confused over what is public and private property, namely themselves, and refuses to submit its documents to The National Television Company of Ukraine as required.

Having been identified in the statue as being an entity that will form part of this television/radio/Internet State broadcaster, the belligerence of the management of this entity therefore make it impossible for any State public broadcaster to actually broadcast anything, for technically it is still not compliant with the legislation per statutory composition.

What to do when a State entity refuses to obey the State and the statute book?

Rather than enforce the statute it seems there will be an amendment made, via Draft Bill 4232, to remove Ukrtelefilm from the statute that creates the State public broadcaster.  The tail wags the dog once more in yet another display of exceptionally weak governance in the face of the slightest resistance.

Nevertheless, by the Autumn, the tail will have wagged itself free of the State/public broadcaster by way of statutory amendment.

Thereafter, it will be a matter of deciding whether the State public broadcaster actually meets the a-political and inclusive model a public broadcaster is meant to be.  Regardless of neutrally presented factual content, will there be Ukrainian, Russian and Tatar language broadcasting (or any of the other officially recognised minority languages) for example?

All will undoubtedly be watching for the current political leadership (or any subsequent government of the day) “meddling” with the content, but it will be equally as interesting to see whether the national and/or regional media outlets owned by every self-respecting (if not publicly respected) old guard elites decide to collectively attack the new public broadcaster when the owners interests are challenged on or by the State public broadcaster.

Time will tell whether the Ukrainian public broadcaster will be all quality signal as expected from such an entity, or if it will also contain a lot of unacceptable noise through “meddling”.  As of today however, there is no public broadcasting at all – a full 12 months after a public broadcaster was created by statute.

Thus far, not a note from A NOTE – not even the annoying noise from having no signal whatsoever.

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