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The Consequences of the Law on Quotas for Ukrainian-Language Songs for the Broadcasters


Mariia Koval, attorney at Ilyashev & Partners Law Firm
Source: Ukrainian News

In June the Verkhovna Rada adopted the law that imposes quotas on the share of Ukrainian-language products in the total volume of songs broadcast by TV and radio companies. Adoption of the rule was accompanied by the fierce debate among politicians, performing artists and producers. We will be able to see how the law will work only in November, when it enters into force. However, it is necessary to understand the changes it makes to the legislation and its pitfalls even now.

The attorney of Ilyashev & Partners Law Firm tried to explain how the law will be implemented and how the process will be controlled.

On June 16 the Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Television and Radio Broadcasting” (regarding the share of the songs in the state language in music radio programs and radio programs), which sets forth the obligation of TV broadcasting companies to provide on the radio the share of songs in the state language at least 35 % of the total volume of songs broadcast throughout the day, including at least 35% of the total volume of songs distributed in each period of time from 7:00 to 14:00 and 15:00 to 22:00.

The law comes into effect 4 months after the date of publication, i.e. on 8 November.

It should be noted that the share of Ukrainian songs will be increased gradually: in the first year after the entry into force of the Law – at least 25%, in the second year – not less than 30%, and only in the third year – not less than 35%.

For example: in France, the quota of songs and broadcasts in French is 40%, in Poland – 33%, in Canada – 40%, in Turkey – 30%.

Taking into account that radio stations broadcast an average of 80-100 songs per day, depending on the amount of other radio broadcasts, it turns out that already this year not less than 20 songs in the Ukrainian language should be on the radio, i.e. every third or fourth song should be in Ukrainian.

The purpose of introduction of such quotas in the first place was protection of the Ukrainian national producers of audiovisual product. However, the question arises whether there is a sufficient number of Ukrainian songs to fill the specified 25% -35% in the near future? The law also does not take into account whether the radio stations may broadcast the same songs in the Ukrainian language during one day, and whether the radio station has the right to broadcast the same 25% -35% of the Ukrainian product every day?

It should be noted that more than fifty Ukrainian musicians, including Ruslana, Tina Karol, Andriy Khlyvnyuk (Boombox), Dmitry Shurov (Pianoboy), The Hardkiss, were against setting of such quotas, believing that the innovation is intended to divide Ukrainians by language belonging. Andriy Hluvnyk declared on behalf of the Ukrainian musicians: “Division of the Ukrainian authors and performers on the insiders and the outsiders, the right and the wrong, is a wrong way, it may cause discord within the music community and in society at large, while Ukraine needs the maximum consolidation”.

Although introduction of such quotas in any case is a contentious issue because of their binding nature, the quotas for the Ukrainian product can not be called division of the Ukrainians. Unfortunately, in Ukraine there is a shortage of Ukrainian language content.

For the Ukrainian musicians and composers, who mostly perform and create songs in Russian (and they are many of them), introduction of quotas in any case is a problematic point because their work was not focused on the Ukrainian language so much. Moreover, the radio stations will be gradually forced to give preference to those musicians who also perform songs in Ukrainian.

Thereto, the Law also permits the radio stations to broadcast 25% of the songs in the Ukrainian language of the total volume of songs on the condition that they will distribute at least 60% of songs in the official languages of the European Union.

Surely, for it considerable cash infusions are required (for the purchase of foreign audio and video products, their adaptation), and a tremendous amount of work.

Supervision over compliance of TV and radio companies with the requirements in relation to the share of the national audiovisual product is assigned to the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting, and, accordingly, the appropriate amendments are also introduced in the Law of Ukraine “On the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting”.

After the enactment of the Law on amendments to the Law “On Television and Radio Broadcasting” when issuing licenses preference will be given to the radio stations, which, apart from fixed factors, undertake to increase the share of the Ukrainian product to 5% and more.

Thus, the radio station that wishes to obtain a license will be required to provide any evidence that it either increased or will increase the share of the Ukrainian products to 5% and more. Since the appropriate procedure has not been established, it is not clear whether it will be possible for the radio station to provide the agreements concluded with the subjects of related rights, or the intention to conclude such agreements, or it may simply write a formal commitment to increase the percentage indicating the intended scope and broadcasting grid.

Taking into account that the reason for refusal to grant a broadcasting license on a competitive basis is the existence of certain benefits determined by the Law for another applicant, who was a successful bidder, it turns out that the failure to confirm the commitment to increase the share of the Ukrainian products to 5% will also be the basis for refusal to issue a license.

As the National Council is authorized to impose sanctions on the television and radio companies (warning, fines and applying to the court for cancellation of license), for violation of provisions of the Law or license conditions it will be authorized to impose sanctions also on the television and radio companies that carry out broadcasting, for failure to comply with the requirements on the share of the Ukrainian product.

The Council is also authorized to impose fines of 5% of the license fee for a broadcasting license that will be approximately from UAH 1,000 to UAH 30,000.

We can only hope that the adopted Law will serve the development of not only Ukrainian audio products, but also of the Ukrainian language in our society in general, despite the almost complete lack of incentive and support of development of the Ukrainian cultural industry.

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