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Language Quotas on Radio and Fines in Details

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On the threshold of adopting the Draft Law on Language quotas on TV in Ukraine, the representatives of TV and Radio companies, the National Broadcasting Council and industry lawyers discussed the legal aspects of the law on language quotas for radio stations, effective since November 2016. The regulatory authority’s representatives Roman Kiflyuk, Head of the TV and Radio Broadcasting Control and Analysis Division of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine, and Anna Chumachenko, Head of the Legal Division of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine, told about the National Council’s monitoring and fining violators.

The National Council receives over 1000 complaints from listeners, and just 5% of them are recognized reasonable, so in this case the National Council institutes an inspection. As a rule, to institute inspections the regulatory authority is primarily guided by own monitoring results.

According to the law, the broadcasting grid of radio stations must contain Ukrainian-language songs and broadcasts as follows:

  • Starting from 8.11.2016 — at least 25% at least 50%;
  • Starting from 8.11.2017 — at least 30% at least 55%;
  • Starting from 8.11.2018 — at least 35% at least 60%.

During the workshop, there were discussed many important issues about the law peculiarities that arise for TV and Radio companies in their daily operation and shaping broadcasting grid. For example, a song is defined as a piece of music lasting at least 90 seconds and containing at least one phrase, i.e. snatches of songs lasting less than 90 seconds are not subject to monitoring. The quota is calculated as a number of songs in Ukrainian (including its dialects) relative to the total number of songs. The requirement for the Ukrainian authors and performers’ share was abolished. The language of broadcasts is only the announcer or presenter’s one, and not the guests’s one. There is no control over the Ukrainian-language proportion of commercials, announcements and jingles.

The size of fines ranges from 25% to 5% of the license fee on average. 25% are charged for such violations as calling for the dismantlement of the Ukrainian statehood, war, racial, national or religious antagonism; propaganda of racial, national, religious and social exclusivity or inferiority; rebroadcasting programs and broadcasts that do not comply with the Ukrainian laws and/or are prohibited by court.

10% are charged for non-providing viewers with an option of watching broadcasts within the must-carry list; advertising of various fortune-telling and occult services, narcotic substances; broadcasts that may harm the development of minors; pornography; broadcasts that propagate the aggressor state’s authorities and justify the occupation of Ukraine, etc.

5% are charged for violating license terms and broadcasting concept, as well as for late accounts filing.

The Mediasat asked the CEO of the “Tavr Media” Radio Group Igor Chernyshov to speak on how they manage to comply with those legal requirements:

“To meet quotas for Ukrainian-language songs, the radio stations have to either put Ukrainian songs repeatedly, or add little-known and not very well-tested ones to their airtime. We combine both approaches. Some listeners do not like it, and some people like it. How do we address problems with fines? So we pay them. For example, Kiss FM was fined UAH 200 thousand for a few percent lacking to meet the quota. The computer threw out several songs and the proportion changed. Now we are overcautious to run more than enough Ukrainian-language songs.”