We must prevent the institutional crisis of the Public Broadcasting

Читайте українською тут.

I want to answer the question of Detector Media and of many others: Why there is still no comment from me about the crisis at the last meeting of the PJSC National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine Supervisory Board (SB). I understand the indignation of people who do not know the procedures and conditions in which the SB operates.

Why is it impossible to comment? It is because only the signed minutes are documents that serve as confirmation and provide precise wording. And commenting from memory is a false way which can lead to distortion of facts.

How much time does it take? According to our approved regulations, this will take five days. The meeting lasted almost four hours. The amount of information that needs to be transcribed is enormous. Then, everyone who participated must read it to confirm their texts and voting. And only then the minutes are signed and become an official document.

I would like to note that no decisions and no documents have been appealed so far, which indicates the high level of responsibility of my colleagues who prepared and approved them.

Already now, even before the publication of the minutes, I see signs of serious systemic crisis forthcoming. I sometimes see a very aggressive reaction to what happened, even hate speech against the SB. I already see division into "camps" - despite the fact that we all are called to do one thing - a qualitative reform of the Public Broadcasting.

Even those are indignant who are well-informed (who participated in the drafting of the law and in discussing key documents with European experts) that the supervisory board works on a voluntary basis, has no apparatus, and does not have its own lawyer. By law, we should meet at least once a quarter. In fact, in 2017, we held 17 meetings; in 2018 the number was a little smaller. But each meeting takes a lot of time for the preparation and drafting of documents for the study of projects. I think that some provisions of the law concerning the working conditions of the SB need to be improved.

Each member of the SB is a venerable, self-sufficient person with a mandate and is guided by own convictions. I only moderate the discussion; I have no levers of influence on any of them. And this is correct, because this is the essence of the supervisory board of any public broadcaster: all points of view should be presented.

The recall of members of the SB is by no means provided by law, as in most public broadcasters of other countries. This is considered to be pressure. At the beginning of the term, we experienced such an attempt when the outcome of the vote of one of the members did not satisfy those who delegated this person. But this was found to be illegal.

My task was always to find consensus-based solutions. And even after heated discussions, we have always been able to find a solution. Virtually all the initiatives of the board were supported during the meetings. But there was also critical assessment of some aspects.

Those who say that this question arose unexpectedly are stretching the truth a little. Those who follow the developments know that repeated attempts with perseverance worthy of better use were made to include this issue in the agenda. Previously, it was possible to stop these attempts. This time, the initiators insisted.

What shall be done next?

1. As soon as the minutes appear, they should be legally analyzed for compliance with the procedure!

2. Of course, the decision can be appealed in court! Perhaps a re-vote could remove the issue.

3. Together we must prevent the institutional crisis, preserve the achievements and pace of the reform, principles of editorial and program policies, not let any program disappear from the air. Ensure a level of respect for all parties to the process.

Tetiana Lebedieva

Chair of the Supervisory Board of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine

Translated to English by Taras Zadorozhnyy

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