The Regulator, representatives of the industry and the public have jointly created new regulations for media coverage of the issue of children’s participation in the armed conflicts. The Act is open for signature to all media.
The Working group on elaboration of the rules of protection of children’s rights in the media that operates under the eigis of the National Council has drafted and approved the Joint Agreement Act No. 3 “Media coverage of the issue of children’s participation in the armed conflicts”. This is the third self-regulatory document, aimed at protection of minors from the harmful media content, signed by the leading media groups, the public broadcaster and the Independent Association of Broadcasters of Ukraine. Traditionally, only the “Inter Media Group” decided not to join this cooperation between the Regulator, the industry and the public.
The work on drafting the regulations, applicable in the day-to-day media activities in coverage of the issues of sensitive nature that could have a detrimental effect on the psychological and moral development of the children, started after the public discussion in the early 2016. The National Council took lead in organizing this process, being fully aware of the fact that the media community needed a gentle nudge towards development of rules that already function in the majority of European countries. The most widely known among those is The Ofcom Broadcasting Code, which is obligatory for the media of the United Kingdom to operate under and which served as paragon of media standards for numerous other countries.
Since 2016 the Working group that includes representatives of the National Council, TV and media organizations, content providers, journalists, media lawyers and psychologists has drafted regulations dealing with two additional aspects of protection of children’s rights: on the protection of child victims of sexual assault involved in the media production and on media coverage of suicide-related issues. Apparently, these issues cause strong audience response in TV-product consumers and simultaneously have the largest amount of warnings from parents, psychologists and media experts.
The document on the media coverage of suicide-related issues that sets certain restrictions that media should adhere to is important in view of the increase in 2017 of suicide cases in Ukraine. Ukraine currently is among the 25 nations where suicides are most frequent. Hence, media should pay particular attention and bear specific responsibility in the coverage of suicide-related issues since there is scientific proof that broad and detailed coverage of such cases provokes increase in committed suicides. According to European standards the media should not solely report on such cases, but provide the information on obtaining psychological assistance as well.
The first self-regulatory Act on protection of child victims of sexual assault involved in the media production deals with creation and transmission of programs and shows involving said children or mentioning them. The Act construed the aspects of media coverage, not previously reflected in the legislation. The document emphasizes that producers have to be aware of the foremost importance of the child’s best interest that cannot be neglected under any circumstances.
Given the challenges that Ukraine faces due to the aggression of the Russian Federation, the TV and radio information experts have drafted regulations of the media coverage of issues related to armed conflicts in the territory of Ukraine and how to protect the children from traumatization due to dissemination of military-related content. In particular, the self-regulatory Act No. 3 deals with involvement of children in the events related to the temporary occupation of Ukrainian territory, with projection on military situations occurring globally. The broader context of this subject matter deals with a general issue of media coverage of violence. The Working group now works on inclusion of this issue.
The self-regulatory Act No. 3 was signed by representatives of the media groups “1+1 Media”, “StarLightMedia”, “Ukraina Media Group” and UA:PBC (National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine). The Board of the Independent Association of Broadcasters of Ukraine expressed agreement to sign the Act (the general meeting of the Association will be held by the end of December).
The National Council calls upon all broadcasters to join the process of elaboration of regulations for media coverage of major issues and to be guided in their editorial policies by existing self-regulatory Acts, aimed at improvement of the quality of Ukrainian broadcasts.