Задать вопрос специалисту

Приобрети журнал - получи консультацию экспертов

Курс НБУ

"Media privatization" in Ukrainian style – is a crash or panacea?

Julia Mostovaya


Recently, Ukraine vigorously is trying to break in the European Union, reinforcing its intentions with small democratic shifts. The European side applauds our changes, but does not miss an opportunity to poke its nose in gaps and unfulfilled promises

Another incentive for Ukrainian democracy was arrival of the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Jean-Claude Mignon. By sheer luck a few days before the arrival of European guest, Viktor Yanukovych gave a command to quickly privatize the media, in fact, to do what Ukraine has promised the PACE in 2005. We are talking about the Resolution #1466, "On performance of duties and obligations". In particular, "perform privatization of printed media, established by public authorities and local self-government, and to ensure transparency of their property". Command was clear - and work started ... At first ... In any case, it became a bright touch to the film "a welcome change" for a European delegate.

According to eyewitnesses, Mr. Mignon was so impressed with Ukraine and the person of our President that he immediately sent a telegram to Strasbourg to catch such a Europeanized Ukraine from Russia: promptly sign an association agreement and introduce visa-free regime. It would seem that it is a success: the Europeans will leave happy and reform will go under way. And all would be fine, except that time goes, but not a word about privatization...

Our song is good...

Let's start with the fact that this is not the first dead end in authorities’ incentives to make editors free from their careful attention. Epic with denationalization of Ukrainian mass media continues for more than 10 years. Idea of privatization has sounded back in 1998 from deputy Vitaly Shevchenko. A year later, Parliament adopted a resolution "On the Cabinet of Ministers and other authorities’ activities concerning freedom of expression, information needs of society and development of information society in Ukraine". Then, it was clearly stated in document: to accelerate development of media privatization concept. Acceleration process lasted 4 years. In 2003, at parliamentary hearing it was decided to issue a ruling on law project "On the media privatization concept". Almost 5 years and 3 stimuli: PACE resolution and action plan "Ukraine - NATO", "Ukraine - EU" were needed to transfer concept into real law projects. About 20 options for privatization of state agencies have been already suggested by professional organizations and MPs. Perhaps the most adequate attempts did the State Committee, the Union of Journalists (NUJU) and the Ministry of Justice.

At the end of 2012 we moved towards privatization as close: the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting and the National Union of Journalists have prepared a law project "On reform of government and public media" and in October it was filed for consideration to the Cabinet of ministers. Document calls for gradual reform of press in a period of 7 years. "The pilot phase" included voluntary reorganization of media for 3 years with parallel development of "case studies" for other versions. On the "Main Stage" they planned for 4 years to privatize the rest of media. Also uncompensated transfer of reformed property editorial staff was assumed, together with benefits for rental of buildings and grants for first period. However, such a generous "start-up help" was considered superfluous by Ministry of Economic Development and Entrepreneurship and rejected the law project.

The ice is broken?

On 21 March, the President reminded everyone about Ukrainian commitment to the PASE, and instructed Mykola Azarov to begin accelerated privatization of printed media. In order to avoid lengthy disputes between authorities and media, April 2 expert meeting held in framework of "Open Talk".  Representatives of all branches of government were negotiating, as well as delegates from the State Committee, NUJU and other professional associations. In order not to waste time on empty arguments, participants agreed to finalize the project of the State Committee in view of last year's revisions of the Cabinet of Ministers and advices from media.

All agreed on steps of the privatization and reform procedure, however, a number of positions on free transfer of ownership, social benefits, and rent subsidies were taken very hostile by some delegates. Members of NUJU were never tired of repeating that now is not the best time for reorganization - a period of economic downturn, shrinking market and media revenue. And without state support editorial offices will not be able to adapt and survive even for a small period of time in Ukrainian media market.

The head of association of media lawyers Tatiana Kotyuzhinska appealed to the fact that average price of property accumulated over years in a state newspaper does not exceed 30-50 thousand UAH, and state could donate such small sums for the benefit of survival of their loyal media. Nevertheless, these matters left floating in the air.

It was planned that before April 5, the Cabinet will finalize the draft and submit it to the President for inclusion in Supreme Council as emergent, but today is month of May, and project has not been approved yet. According to the head of the State Committee Alexander Kurdinovich, Cabinet provoked another stoppage, this time the ministers did not have enough of legal conclusions.

Surprise from MPs

While ministers and journalists argued, MPs did not lose time and registered two similar law projects. Thus, the first (№ 2600 "On reforming printed media"), was developed by six MPs (Mykola Tomenko, Rustam Raupov, Nicholay Knyazhytskyy, Igor Miroshnichenko, Stepan Kurpil and Nicholay Bagraev) and registered on March 21 that automatically transferred project from the State Committee into alternative one, with rules of registration until April 4 (deadlines have already expired).

According to MPs, privatization of printed media can be done just in 4 months. Their law provides 4 ways to reform printed media, depending on availability of property and desire of employees for "privatization". Reorganized media can count on government support if they leave the title, language, and general direction. Newspapers and magazines of local distribution can rely on support from local budget. In addition, new owners will be obliged not to cut staff for 2 years.

The second bill (№ 2600-1 «On Amendments to Some Laws of Ukraine regarding reform of state and communal printed media"), is registered on April 9 by Deputy Nikolai Knyazhytskyy. According to the author, his project is agreed with legislation on privatization and includes all protection mechanisms for employees.

As a result, today we have a decent number of similar projects, and twice as many intractable problems, because we still do not have any prospects and guarantees that the case will move forward,.

Modern challenges: who leaves and who stays

The media privatization - is a progressive global trend. But it is not formed because our world is becoming more open and democratic; the whole thing is in shift of information poles. If, starting with the XX century, the global trend was considered as public opinion, formation of which was rightly given to media: in Soviet times - to party publications, and in the market – to 3-4 influential media magnates. There is no common opinion now in fact. There is a society, but no common opinion at all. It is the modern paradox. But now there are a lot of competent and incompetent subjective opinions that are freely set out on internet sites and set global information trend, out of editors’ authority, as media owners and holders of power. Now everyone has the right to create his own information product, by publishing on blogs, commenting on forums and social networks. And the logical question arises: why public needs media, which it no longer trusted, and therefore, why government needs a speaker, which no one hears, and does not want to listen.

They have followed this pattern for a long time an all advanced countries and, therefore, took appropriate action. In several European countries, privatization was held in the late XX century. Poland has achieved great results, making the state media monopoly in modern market of private media.

Ukrainian authorities have long felt that the state-owned press has lost its luster in eyes of public. However, they did not lift their hands to liquidate on their own a powerful instrument in the past of pressure and manipulation with masses. Here all European directives and oncoming obligations became handy. The authorities hurried with statements about freedom of speech, democracy and blasphemous squandering the budget on keeping about 700 state-owned media, which were suddenly no better than those private media, which turn, dodge to survive in a tough market media.

If we take into account data of the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine at the end of 2012, state or municipal own 667 printed editorials. These are potential dinosaurs, not adapted to survival as independent media in today's market: they do not have skills for effective financial planning, market positioning and productive work with advertisers. On the one hand, market provides equal conditions for all and makes natural selection to prosper. However, the present moment for privatization - indeed, is extremely unfavorable.

Now even for private media it is enormously difficult to survive. The printed copies decrease, advertisers go to network in search of big money and global consumer. As a result, publications are forced to get out and to resort to all sorts of tricks to stay afloat. Daily publications often slow down the momentum and come out every 2-3 days; many rush to conquer online spaces, opening platform version and platform-hybrids. And this is not meant to cover new segments of audience, but the frantic attempts to keep readers, gradually float away to network. One of the radical solutions - on verge of collapse have time to close the traditional format of media and open a high functionality "original online resource" for effective promotion of content and profit. They are looking for new, modern solutions, introduce own information products on the Internet.

So, the new, democratic journalism - is, of course, great, and the path to it in the modern developed world, is well trodden, however, we will go for it, mostly our Ukrainian way: bumping up the rake, potholes, and obviously not without losses. And although such patriotic mood of unions is now criticized, for committees and professional journalistic organizations to support switching on their own and editors offices should be aware that this is the only way to keep at least a pitiful percentage of former state-owned media after progressive reforms to democratize the media.

Додати коментар

Захисний код

Что для Вас криптовалюта?

Виртуальные «фантики», крупная махинация вроде финансовой пирамиды - 42.3%
Новая эволюционная ступень финансовых отношений - 25.9%
Чем бы она не являлась, тема требует изучения и законодательного регулирования - 20.8%
Даже знать не хочу что это. Я – евро-долларовый консерватор - 6.2%
Очень выгодные вложения, я уже приобретаю и буду приобретать биткоины - 4.3%

29 августа вступила в силу законодательная норма о начислении штрафов-компенсаций за несвоевременную выплату алиментов (от 20 до 50%). Компенсации будут перечисляться детям

В нашей стране стоит сто раз продумать, прежде чем рожать детей - 33.3%
Лучше бы государство изобретало механизмы финансовой поддержки института семьи в условиях кризиса - 29.3%
Это не уменьшит числа разводов, но заставит отцов подходить к вопросу ответственно - 26.7%
Эта норма важна для сохранения «института отцовства». Поддерживаю - 9.3%