Due to the unprecedented and politically motivated decision of the National Board on Television and Radio Broadcasting to revoke the digital license of the 112 Ukraine TV channel, the International Editorial Board of the channel, consisting of the Member of the European Parliament Nathan Gill (Great Britain), David Coburn (Great Britain), Arne Gericke (Germany), appeals to the diplomatic institutions and international organizations protecting journalists' rights with the following statement:
International Editorial Board of 112 Ukraine TV channel assesses the decision of the National Council of TV and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine as biased and politically motivated actions of the regulator, which cause further pressure on the rights of the journalists and restriction of the freedom of speech in Ukraine.
International Editorial Board believes that National Council of TV and Radio Broadcasting has once again demonstrated that it acts primarily as a punitive agency and threatens the observance of main principles of functioning of the media in democratic society.
International Editorial Board considers the decision of the National TV Council an illegal decision of the illegitimate state body. The powers of three members of the National TV Council have expired at the beginning of July 2019 and thus they cannot participate in the meetings and voting of the National TV Council. According to the norms of Ukrainian legislation, their actions are the arbitrary assumption of authority. In addition, according to the law on the National TV Council, its meetings are considered legitimate if not less than six members of the council have to participate in it. Considering the fact that three of eight members of the council did not have the right to participate in it, such meetings and decisions made at the meetings are illegal.
International Editorial Board draws attention that decision on revocation of the digital license of 112 Ukraine TV channel was made by the authority that does not have flawless professional reputation and is a figurant of the high-profile scandal corruption scandal. State Bureau of Investigations is looking into the fact of alleged misappropriation of around 4.1 million dollars by the regulator in purchase of TV channel monitoring system.
International Editorial Board points out probable bias of the Ukrainian court, as Ukrainian media has been discussing the information that two of three judges who consider case of 112 Ukraine's licenses were summonsed to the Office of the President on the eve of the meeting concerning the license.
International Editorial Board considers such actions of the National TV Council as further attack on freedom of speech in Ukraine, which started during the presidency of Petro Poroshenko and unfortunately continues with the new authorities. Earlier, 112 Ukraine TV channel was pressured over its independent position by the unconstitutional decision of the Verkhovna Rada, from the side of right-wing organizations and aggressive policy of the National Council. After the change of the authorities, the situation has even worsened. In July, the channel’s building was shelled from a grenade launcher and law enforcers have qualified this as a terrorist attack and have not yet found those responsible. And recently, the Verkovna Rada MP Serhiy Vysotsky directly called to shell the TV channel from an anti-tank guided missile. Unfortunately, Ukrainian authorities continue to ignore numerous appeals of the International Editorial Board and employees of the TV channel and have not reacted on terroristic actions and provocative statements towards the channel.
The International Editorial Board is forced to acknowledge that the oppression by the National Council on TV and radio broadcasting is systemic: in addition to pressure on the 112 Ukraine TV Channel, the actions of the National Council can lead to the termination of broadcasting on NewsOne and ZIK. Recently, the National Council filed a lawsuit to revoke the license of the NewsOne TV channel. The reason for that lawsuit was some statements made by guests of the channel live studio, for which, according to Ukrainian law, the channel should not be held responsible at all.
The International Editorial Board intends to continue including the issue of suppressing freedom of speech in Ukraine, arbitrary behaviour by the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting, impunity of radical organizations and insufficient security of Ukrainian journalists on the agenda of the main European and international organizations that protect human rights and democratic freedoms. The International Editorial Board also calls on diplomatic institutions in Ukraine to express their position on the actions of the Ukrainian authorities in the field of television.
The International Editorial Board expresses its support to the 112 Ukraine TV Channel team and notes that it will make every effort to attract world attention and to urgently protect Ukraine’s most popular news channel, the current attacks against which indicate serious threat to media independence in Ukraine.