KIEV, February 2 /TASS/. Ukraine’s leading national private TV channel Inter has come out against the forthcoming adoption by Ukrainian parliament of a number of bills banning anti-Ukrainian propaganda (N. 1317, 1768, 1824 and 1889). These documents will give the right to Ukrainian National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting to suspend licenses or stop the broadcasts of any television channel or radio station for six months exclusively to its discretion without any court decision, the channel’s staff said.
"It means that any broadcaster can be liquidated on the basis of the National Council’s exclusive assessment of its content. In short, several people in power will subjectively decide to their own discretion how journalists should love their Motherland and criticize the authorities and politicians," the Inter journalists wrote in an open letter addressed to Ukrainian leadership, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media and the head of the EU delegation in Ukraine.
If adopted, the journalists say, the new bills will actually introduce censorship in Ukraine. "The creation of such a lever of influence in the mass media market is a direct onslaught on freedom of speech. It will create enormous temptation for dishonest politicians to tell and order journalists what to write. This is the beginning of totalitarianism and new dictatorial laws," the Inter journalists said in their address.
The letter’s authors demanded that deputies remove the bills in question from the parliamentary agenda and called for drafting new bills that would take account not only of the interests of government bureaucrats but also of Ukrainian citizens who have the right to their own opinion and freedom of speech and also of the media which will have guarantees that the state machinery and a punitive system will not be used against independent broadcasters again.
The Inter TV channel is affiliated with the UA Inter Media Group whose owner is Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash. He holds a 65% stake in the Inter channel.