Vienna, 19 September 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed concern after it was revealed that an upcoming discussion in the Ukrainian Parliament suggests a potential 50% reduction of the public broadcaster draft budget for 2018.
On 15 September, the Cabinet of Ministers voted to adopt the draft law "On the State Budget for 2018". On the same day, the state budget draft for 2018 was submitted to the parliament.
The annual budget is usually foreseen by the Law on Public Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine, but it is now being set for discussion, which would allow for a cut in the 2018 budget of UA:PBC (National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine). The old budget was 1,5 billion UAH (approx. 47 million EUR), the government now plans to cut this to 776 million UAH (approx. 25 million EUR). This would make it one of the smallest in Europe when compared to other public broadcasters in the region; smaller countries have budgets several times higher, but which cover smaller geographic areas and communities.
"This is a dangerous attack on the public broadcasting. SEEMO calls on the Government of Ukraine to ensure independent and fair funding for the public RTV ", Oliver Vujovic, secretary general of SEEMO said.
SEEMO expressed concern and criticism of this draft budget proposal and calls on authorities within the Ukrainian Parliament and government to revise their suggestion and generate one that is more in line with the democratic values of free speech and press freedom. Public broadcasters must be allowed to work independently and with a budget equipped to cover the expenses of a country with Ukraine’s geographical proportions.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.