The NPBC reported on the first year of its activity
On January 19th, 2018, the press conference on the first anniversary of establishment of the PJSC “National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine” took place. Chairman of the NPBC Management Board Zurab Alasania, Chairman of the NPBC Supervisory Board Tetiana Lebedeva, Deputy Chairman Svitlana Ostapa, Secretary of the Supervisory Board Vadym Miskyi, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy Viktoriya Syumar, representatives of state bodies, of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine, media lawyers, and the public took part in the aforementioned event.
According to Tetyana Lebedeva, there is an on-going process laying groundwork for reforms of broadcasting. Though they may not be instantly apparent on the screen, these reforms enable further changes. For instance, the structure is being made efficient, programme policies and professional standards are being unified, principles of vertical and horizontal interaction are being worked out. These are the processes, upon which the new programme policy and, in general, the new principles of work of public TV and radio will be built, and that the audience will get to witness later on.
Viktoria Syumar noted that the task the NPBC faced a year or 10 years ago remains equally relevant – to provide quality information. This is all the more important with two election years looming ahead. Now, the closer to the election, the more clearly it is evident that channels provide information based on their owners’ predisposition, their political or economic positions. And fake news will be spreading further and further, Viktoria Syumar is convinced. It is impossible to regulate this issue at the state level, self-regulation should work here. Thus, Public Broadcasting should serve as an example of objective coverage of events, become a hub of high standards in journalism. “Standards should enable people to find out how they evaluate one issue or another, the main thing is to give them true, verified, accurate information,” she said.
During the presentation, the most important aspect of development of Public Broadcasting was touched upon – its independence. As noted by Galyna Smirnova, Senior Specialist of the Project of the Council of Europe in Ukraine “Strengthening Freedom of Media and Establishing a Public Broadcasting System in Ukraine”, genuine independence is based on proper funding. Independence of the public broadcaster is at the heart of the Council of Europe’s standards in this area, she emphasized. In its standards the Council of Europe pays a lot of attention to funding. And the financing model must conform to certain standards of the Council of Europe. Firstly, there should be reliable, transparent, impactful guarantees of financing of the NPBC. Secondly, counterbalances should be employed against interference in determining the amount of allocated funding. Thirdly, funding should be sufficient to carry out the Public Broadcasting mission. Also, the process of determining funding should render external political impact impossible. Galyna Smirnova said that the Council of Europe expects that the funds provided for by law for the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine will be allocated throughout 2018, while a new stable and reliable model of financing will be developed later. Public broadcasting will continue to be a priority for the Council of Europe in the following Action Plan for Ukraine for 4 years.
Vadym Miskyi also spoke about an optional financing model of the NPBC. He emphasized the possibility of specializing one of the existing taxes in such a way that funds would be allocated from the special state budget fund without any feasible interference of politicians. In the near future, work on developing an optional financing model will be finalized, and this option will be presented to the public.
Zurab Alasania told about the work carried out during the previous year and mapped out the plans for the near future: regarding reformatting the top management, changes in staffing and the company structure, funding needs, etc.
Participants of the press conference gave a positive assessment of the changes taking place at the PJSC NPBC. It is clear that any reform is a painful process, and some people resort to populism. However, in spite of such cases, the NPBC management is moving in the chosen direction. The Supervisory Board, for its part, monitors compliance with legislation and is ready to consider all constructive proposals to develop criteria for evaluating performance of the Management Board activities and other aspects of the activities of the Public Broadcaster. Moreover, the Supervisory Board has already chosen a company that, as required by law, will conduct an organizational and financial audit of the NPBC.