[UA] Efforts to counteract information aggression
Center for Media, Data and Society, School of Public Policy, Central European University (Budapest)
On 24 February 2022, following the imposition of martial law in Ukraine, the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting (see IRIS 1997-8/20) relieved broadcasters of their content obligations for its duration, to enable them to focus on war-related content. On 25 February, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy (see IRIS 2017-4/33) announced the launch of an “information marathon” with the participation of four national channels (three more channels joined the next day). The “marathon” presents a single round-the-clock programme, co-produced by the participating broadcasters, which is broadcast simultaneously on all their channels and platforms. It is also available to other broadcasters such as local ones.
In addition, on 18 March, a Russian-language round-the-clock “information marathon” titled “FreeDom” (“dom” means “home” in both Ukrainian and Russian) was organised by several national media companies on the basis of the world service UATV.
On 19 March, following the decisions of the Council of National Security and Defence, President Zelenskyy signed two decrees. The first decree incorporates – for the period of martial law – Zeonbud, Ltd. Company (a private content provider for four national multiplexes MX-1, 2, 3 and 5, see IRIS 2011-3/32) into the state-run Concern of Radiobroadcasting, Radiocommunications and Television Broadcasting.
The second decree merged – also for the period of martial law – all general interest national television channels into one consolidated platform called “United News.” The objective of the decision was to counter “active dissemination of misinformation by the aggressor state, distortion of information, as well as justifying or denying the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine” through the means of conveying “the truth about the war” and “ensuring a unified information policy under martial law in Ukraine”.
On 4 April, three general-interest national TV channels (5th Channel, Espresso, and Pryamyi) that were not part of the “information marathon” were switched off from terrestrial broadcasting by the Concern of Radiobroadcasting, Radiocommunications and Television Broadcasting, thus losing about 40 percent of their audience. Their spots on multiplexes were taken by the “United News”. On 14 April, the Supreme Rada (the Parliament) of Ukraine adopted the “Statement on the Value of Free Speech, Guarantees of Journalists’ and Media Activities under Martial Law”, which in particular calls for a strong reaction of law-enforcement agencies to “any … cases of technical switch-off of pro-Ukrainian channels from the air”. It also declares that the “Ukrainian State has no right to copy totalitarian practices of the aggressor state” (that is, Russia).
- Про рішення Ради національної безпеки і оборони України від 18 березня 2022 року ‘Про нейтралізацію загроз інформаційній безпеці держави’
- Decree of the President of Ukraine No. 151/2022 of 19 March 2022 “On the decision of the Council of National Security and Defence of Ukraine of 18 March 2022, ‘On neutralisation of the threats to the information security of the State’”
- Про рішення Ради національної безпеки і оборони України від 18 березня 2022 року "Щодо реалізації єдиної інформаційної політики в умовах воєнного стану"
- Decree of the President of Ukraine No 152/2022 of 19 March 2022 “On the decision of the Council of National Security and Defence of Ukraine of 18 March 2022, ‘On implementation of unified information policy under martial law’”
- Про Заяву Верховної Ради України про цінність свободи слова, гарантії діяльності журналістів і засобів масової інформації під час дії воєнного стану
- Decision of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine No. 2190-IX of 14 April 2022 “On the Statement of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine on the Value of Free Speech, Guarantees of Journalists’ and Media Activities under Martial Law”
This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.