35% of Ukrainian radio will be Ukrainian language – Law 3822d

June 16, 2016

The French are particularly robust when it comes to defending their culture, passing into statute as France did, the Toubon Law in 1994.  Among many domestic cultural promotion/defence issues within that law, was a requirement for all commercial French radio stations to play a minimum of 40% music of French language – not that the French commercial broadcasters are necessarily supportive of this law.

(Do lyric-less Jean Michel Jarre tracks, who is undeniably French, count as part of that 40% under French statute?)

France is not alone in having this culturally orientated statute upon its legislative books as far as the continent of Europe is concerned it has to be said – and “European norms” are what Ukraine seeks to replicate according to the rhetoric of much of the political class, so why shouldn’t Ukraine follow this policy line?

There are clear cultural and identity building advantages for the State – and also for the creation of a deeper and broader pool of domestic artists, whilst established Ukrainian language artists are likely to enjoy greater longevity too – notwithstanding other benefits (think royalties) in pursuant of this legislation.


Law 3822d is a similar Ukrainian initiative.  The law puts into statute a requirement of a minimum of 35% of all music “on air” via commercial radio stations to be in Ukrainian.  This can be reduced to 25% if at least 60% of the other languages boradcast are European languages (presumably excluding Russian within that 60%).

Clearly the aim of this law (perhaps thankfully for anybody that is forced to listen to popular music) is the quantitative reduction of Russian language music “on air” in Ukraine.  Fair enough, if the French and others across Europe can do it to limit English language music , so can Ukraine with regard to Russian.

As it happens, Russian pop music is generally awful – as to be blunt is Ukrainian.  Even the most red-blooded of heterosexual males will reach the point of turning off the sound and simply watching the music video of exceptionally attractive and often scantily clad females gyrating seductively and/or extremely provocatively on MTV.

Whether there is 35% or even 25% of 24/7 commercial radio music broadcasting that can currently be filled with Ukrainian language music that reaches the standard any radio broadcaster wants to be associated with is perhaps a different question.

This blog takes several taxis every day – day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out etc – and has done so for well over a decade in Odessa.  Ergo it is exposed to numerous random radio stations every day of the taxi driver’s liking – occasionally numerous radio stations as the driver surfs the airwaves between entry and egress of his car.

However there are specialist radio stations – to pluck a singular example, “Radio Roks” – that already have well over 60% of their “on air” time with music that is other than Russian or Ukrainian language – because there are nowhere near as many Russian or Ukrainian rock/metal bands as there are English language rock/metal bands.  Indeed geriatric “rockers” such as Scorpions, Smokie, Uriah Heep, Bonnie Tyler and Nazareth still actively and regularly play Odessa.

Nature abhors a void, but what initially fills a void is not necessarily going to survive in a new environment.

Sticking with the Radio Roks example, there will be a 25% – 35% void to fill with Ukrainian language rock music for Radio Roks producers – every day.

The question for Radio Roks producers is whether there is 25% – 35% of Ukrainian language rock music from a sufficiently deep and wide pool of domestic artists that they feel is of the quality they want to broadcast?

If not will they be forced to fill that 25% – 35% of on air time with a very select few Ukrainian artists that they feel do make the grade, playing the same tracks over and over again – every day?

Is there a 10 minute Ukrainian “Stairway to Heaven” or 7 minute “Bohemian Rhapsody” equivalent deemed of suitable broadcasting quality (per audience appreciation)  that can be used to meet the statutory percentage quotas, whilst a sufficiently deep and qualitative Ukrainian language pool of rock bands materialises over time?

How will that effect their listeners and listener loyalty, and by extension how will that effect their advertisers? – They are commercial broadcasters after all

What of the other specialist radio stations – those that stick with the 1960s – or 1970’s?  Retro FM?

They perhaps face even more problematic issues than those of the Radio Roks example – for it is rather difficult to skip back in time and generate the sufficient quality and/or quantity from that era that meets any new statutory language requirements.

What of dedicated classical music (surprisingly a popular genre in Odessa even among the young) radio broadcasters?  Is there much classical music with Ukrainian lyrics?  How easy is it to reach a 35% threshold even if merging classical and opera genres?

The above (which happens to be your author’s ringtone), unless ears deceive is Latin.  Is Latin classed as a European language for the purposes of Law 3822d?  Would it help in mitigating the broadcasting percentages?

All of the above stated, and considering all of the transitional “issues” – particularly for specialised broadcasters that will undoubtedly arise – it is nevertheless difficult not to be supportive of the spirit behind this legislation.  Not only is culture is a particularly useful foil in defence of, and the solidifying of identity, but also, and equally as important due to perhaps both qualitative and quantitative voids, it is supported for the opportunities (and potential revenues) it creates for domestic artists both current and yet to arrive.

Indeed there may come a time when MTV will not only be watched for the exceptionally attractive females gyrating seductively and/or extremely provocatively on MTV, but the sound may also be on too!

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