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Language remains a factor of irritation politics. March 16, 244 MPs headed by Mykhailo Kniazhytsky and Viktoria Syumar voted "On Amending Certain Laws of Ukraine Regarding the Language of Audiovisual (Electronic) Media." There is high likelihood that the bill will be adopted as a whole. After that, the language of Ukrainian radio and television will change. Let's see what would be these changes.
As suggested by the authors, Ukrainian language on TV and radio will be used more frequently. As noted in the "Explanatory Memorandum," it would contribute to the protection of national interests and the alleviation of social tension "caused by the use of the Russian language in television programs, taking into account the ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine."
The essence of the bill is to quote the share of the Ukrainian-language product for TV channels. Broadcasting organizations, national and regional, would have a proportion of programs and films in the Ukrainian language – 75% and 50% respectively.
A significant nuance of quotas is the definition of time intervals for the use of the languages. Ukrainian language quotas in 75% and 50% should take place "in each period of time between 07:00 and 18:00 and between 18:00 and 22:00."
Thus, the Ukrainian language will be a priority during the day and, most importantly, in the prime time. For the languages of national minorities, including Russian, 25% are left in these intervals and from 22:00 to 07:00 without quotas.
It seems that everything is simple and transparent. But the numbers always provoke a question of counting.
So, the general principle of calculation is taking into consideration the total length of films, news, and other programs (except songs) created, duplicated or voiced in the Ukrainian language.
At the same time, there might be some unevenness when calculating. If the presenters say a word in foreign language, what kind of quota should be considered?
Now let us speak about films. The film is considered to be voiced in Ukrainian, if the language of distribution, in accordance with state certification, is exclusively Ukrainian. Songs are not considered part of the program or film.
At the same time, if a TV station or a radio station does not produce but only broadcasts a film or a show, the product must be either voiced in Ukrainian (if it is produced before August 1, 1991) or have subtitles. The work of companies on dubbing will significantly increase.
Finally, TV news. For them, the quota in no less than 75% (for the same time intervals).
Space for maneuvering
And yet this project does not limit the very right to broadcast in other languages.
First, article "On language of audiovisual (electronic) media" determines that the broadcasting organizations broadcast in the state language, in regional languages and in minority languages.
A quota of 50% in the Ukrainian language for local TV channels and radio stations makes provides language preferences in a particular region. At the same time, in accordance with the proposed amendments, if the broadcasting organization presents its product in more than one area, it becomes national, and a quota of 75% is applied to it. That is, local media could be theoretically limited in coverage.
Secondly, against the background of the draft laws on the languages introduced by the Verkhovna Rada the quota of 75% seems quite reasonable. Especially if you recall the words of the President of Ukraine about the 90% quota for the Ukrainian language on television.
Thirdly, it is not necessary to subtitrate those types of content, to which cannot be predicted by the presenters. These are comments, interviews of guests, experts, story charactrs, as well as lyrics, if they are part of non-musical programs and used as sound accompaniment, and music videos. At the same time, programs in the Crimean Tatar language are allowed. The head of the Mejlis Refat Chubarov did not vote for the bill.
And, finally, in exceptional cases, with written permission from the NSDC, all programs in other languages are allowed if they are aimed at preventing and neutralizing real and potential threats to national interests in the field of security, freedom of speech, and information security.