Publication

Reform of state-owned and municipal print media outlets

The problems facing Ukraine in reforming the system of state and municipal media outlets are not new, nor are they likely to loose their relevance for the foreseeable future since the reform carries with it a huge number of issues both of a legal, and an economic nature.  All of this together makes it vital to give ensure comprehensive discussion of the principles and methods of such reform, as well as the general need for it.

It was with these aim in mind that the international conference “Reform of the mass media in Ukraine: problems and prospects” was organized by the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine, and the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

The conference was attended by civic organizations defending journalists’ rights, representatives of the state authorities, Kyiv and regional media outlets. Maxim Shcherbatyuk was the UHHRU representative.

The main topics of discussion were:

  • Legislative initiatives aimed at reforming the mass media, with the draft law of the Ministry of Justice “On reforming state-owned and municipal print media outlets” being discussed particularly heatedly, together with the proposal of the National Union of Journalists regarding the draft law;
  • Principles and methods for reforming state-owned and municipal media outlets, with the discussion highlighting both positive and negative examples of this reform, while foreign organizations shared their experience of media reform;
  • The economic aspects of the reform, especially the work of media outlets after the reform;
  • Problems of social guarantees for journalists of these post-reform media outlets;
  • The work of trade unions in defending journalists’ rights;

The conference was particularly important for region print media outlets which were able to discuss their problems with colleagues, and also like-minded people for solving them jointly.

The presence of colleagues from other countries providing examples of how reforms need to be carried out, and what should be looked out for gain awareness of what reform processes are needed in Ukraine.

The conference also discussed some results of a pilot project on reforming the media which were largely positive, as the editors of the newspapers involved in it confirmed.

In way of a conclusion, it can be said that it is extremely important for the creation in Ukraine of a free and competitive environment in the information sphere that the state authorities and bodies of local self-government stop creating media outlets as a form of political propaganda, and that the economic position of Ukrainian media outlets is improved. To achieve this the relevant economic preconditions need to be created for the independent functioning of print outlets, laws on denationalization need to be brought into force, as well as changes and additions to current legislation pertaining to information relations and the work of the mass media, there must be safeguards of journalists’ social rights and guarantees.

Maxim Shcherbatyuk, UHHRU

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