The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is highly concerned about possible underfunding of public broadcaster UA:PBC in 2018. The 2018 state budget envisages providing around half of the budget defined in the Law on Public Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine.
Operating a sustainable public service media has been acknowledged as a strategic aim of Ukraine. It is embedded in the core of recent political reforms that a robust and independent public service broadcaster is a crucial tool in the fight against corruption, the respect of the rule of Law, and an important step towards Ukraine’s European integration.
UA:PBC's public service remit is, in line with international standards, broad and comprehensive in order to promote public interest, democracy, social cohesion and local and national culture. However, in order to fulfil its vital role for the society, UA:PBC must be adequately funded.
The Law envisages funding of 0.2 % of state budget expenditure for the previous year equalling around EUR 40 million. This is one of the smallest budgets in Europe in comparison with other broadcasters that have higher budgets, but cover smaller areas and communities.
The Director General of UA:PBC Zurab Alasania, who resigned last year in an open disagreement with the envisaged funding of public service broadcasting for 2017, said, "UA: PBC is suffering very hard times It’s a time of reform for us, and rebuilding a former state company into an independent public service media. The lack of required funding undermines the whole reform process, and our future itself. "
Yesterday (18 September), the management board of UA:PBC published an official statement expressing its concern about possible underfunding of the broadcaster which could affect not only its ability to fulfil its remit, but moreover could affect its independence, especially on the eve of a general election campaign.
EBU Director General Noel Curran said: "The EBU calls on the Ukrainian Government to ensure appropriate, fair and independent funding for UA:PBC in line with the Ukrainian Law and European standards. A sudden drop in its funding levels, would undermine the important process of reform UA:PBC has undertaken in order to operate as sustainable and independent public service media organization."