Freedom of speech, civil rights are the main indicators of democratic development and maturity of the country. Journalists and society have the rights of different points of view, positions and views on the development of the state, which adheres to democracy values and declares movement towards the European Union.
Unfortunately, Ukraine has repeatedly been at the center of violence reports and authorities pressure against independent journalists for the last five years. Several times, it was reported that the President Poroshenko’s office made pressure on media by means of security agencies and the tame National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine. After the change of power and the total reboot of the ruling authorities in Ukraine, Europe expects that the fact of prosecuting journalists will be left behind. Nevertheless, the situation with the TV broadcasting in Ukraine remains hazard and raises indignation.
After the tremendous news concerning the shelling of the 112 Ukraine TV Channel, and reports about the possible future arrests of the assets of the company in favour of the new Ukrainian authorities, it is even more disturbing that the facts of intimidating journalists of NEWSONE TV Channel remain; moreover, the member of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine Sergiy Kostynskiy has already declared the decision to cancel the licence of the TV Channel by court.
The problem with the statement consists not only in the fact that the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine is a collective body, and, thus, Kostynskiy’s statement is nothing but illegal pressure on media, but also in the fact that the TV Channel might become a victim of the body authority that has been recently blamed of pressure onto media in the interests of the former President. Aforementioned accusations belonged to the current authorities who used to be members of the oppositional media.
We also hope that it is a coincidence that Kostynskiy made his statement strictly on the same day when NEWSONE TV Channel planned to show the interview with the former MP Oleksandr Onyshchenko, the unscrewer of corruption schemes who publicly accused the former President Poroshenko of corruption.
Documents, which lie into the basis of the decision to withdraw the license of the TV channel are no less worrying, as soon as these paper will be used in the following meeting of the National Council on September 5. The inspection report conducted by the National Council, which we have at our disposal, is based on subjective judgments and does not contain any background of any possible manipulations or violations of journalistic standards. According to the verification report, the TV channel can be deprived of the right to broadcast because of is the speeches of politicians and public figures, made by them in a live(!) air. Missing the fact that these statements did not refer to any incitement of hatred and intolerance, the right to broadcasting in the 21st century in Europe might be lost because of the words of guests of the airtime who are supported by the society and are a part of the socio-political life of the country.
We believe that such a decision (in case Sergiy Kostinsky's statement about the adopted decision is confirmed before consideration according to the procedure) will become a loud signal to the West that despite the change of power, the situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine has not improved, and the country is moving in the direction, opposite to the democratic values. We call on the Ukrainian authorities to intervene in the situation with one of the most popular Ukrainian news channels, to prevent political reprisals against journalists, and to create equal conditions for the media in the country. We would like to draw attention to the work of the regulator, the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council, and to restart its work in the format of a body for the development of journalism and media in Ukraine, rather than the pressure on and censorship over the media, as it used to happen under the previous government.
Earlier, 112 Ukraine blamed the recent statement by Serhiy Vysotsky, the Ukrainian MP, in which he urged to shell the buildings of 112 Ukraine and NewsOne TV channels.