UK politician, media freedom expert John Whittingdale condemned the pressure on 112 Ukraine and NewsOne TV channels, applied by the Ukrainian Parliament. Nadiya Sas, Ukrainian TV host said this based on the correspondence with Whittingdale, as the two discussed the political decision of the Verkhovna Rada.
'Dear John, it was a great pleasure to get acquainted with you. I am so much inspired by the excursion all over the Parliament you had kindly made for us. It was really fascinating. But now I also have to address you on a professional issue. With the elections approaching the government and ruling coalition increase pressure on independent media including the one, I work for. This morning Rada voted for the appeal to National Security Council of Ukraine with a request to introduce sanctions against independent information TV channels NewsOne and 112.ua under the mock pretext of their alleged involvement in Russian propaganda. Here is the link to the respective piece of news: https://112.international/society/ukrainian-parliament-urges-defence-council-to-sanction-two-tv-channels-32846.html What is most disgusting about that is that many of those who voted for this explicit act of pressure on media are themselves often guests on those two channels where they had been traditionally offered all opportunities to freely express their views.
As a UK politician professionally dealing both with media freedom issues and relations with Ukraine, I ask you to look into that situation and follow attentively its development. I believe that your unbiased and experienced input might be of high need with regard to guaranteeing the freedom of the press in my country on the eve of important and challenging elections,' reads Sas's letter.
Whittingdale responded, saying he was 'concerned to hear about sanctions against tv channels.' 'Generally, I am opposed to any censorship and believe media freedom is a crucial component of a free society. In the UK, tv news is required to be objective and impartial and RT has been fined a number of times for breaches of this. But I have opposed those who want it taken off air even though it is clearly propaganda. I will make inquiries of my friends in the Government and Rada,' the MP's letter says.
Whittingdale is a British Conservative Party politician and former UK Government minister. In 2005, he became the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee. In this role, he led the committee's 2009/2010 investigation into libel and privacy issues, including the News International phone hacking scandal after The Guardian, first revealed the extent of the practice at the News of the World. He was alleged to have warned members of the committee to consider not compelling former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to testify due to the potential risk that their personal lives would be investigated in revenge but has strongly denied the accusation.
The staff of 112 Ukraine TV channel insists that the steps made by the Ukrainian Parliament, which aim to apply sanctions against 112 Ukraine TV channel are nothing but a political decision; there is not enough evidence to make such decision, which badly lacks argumentation and may be considered unconstitutional.