Attempt to control TV and radio
Commenting on the situation in late March, newly appointed council member Volodymyr Tsendrovsky called the president's failure to appoint his four new council members an attempt to control TV and radio broadcasting prior to the presidential elections.
Political spat threatens TV and radio licenses
New TV and radio council members
say licenses issued
this year are invalid
By MARKO LEVYTSKY
Post Staff Writer
20 May 1999
As another political storm arises over control over
Ukraine's airwaves, businesses that have recently started
operating in Ukraine's politically charged TV and radio
broadcasting market face losing previously awarded licenses.
The four new members of the National Council on Radio
and Television Broadcasting, who were appointed in March by
parliament, announced in late April that the council would
not recognize any TV or radio licenses issued after Jan. 1, 1999.
In a statement addressed to former council members, the
heads of TV and radio organizations, government departments
and public organizations, the council's four new
parliamentary appointees said that because the terms of
office of their predecessors had ended in December 1998,
they would not consider valid rulings or decisions made thereafter.
The National Council for Television and Radio
Broadcasting issues licenses and allocates broadcasting
time, and the president and parliament each appoint half of
its eight members. The four-year terms of the old council
members expired in December 1998, and on March 16 parliament
named its four new appointees.
However, despite having officially dismissed his
previous four appointees, President Leonid Kuchma has yet to
name replacements, and in the interim the old council,
presided over by Viktor Petrenko, has continued to function.
Speaking to the Post, Mykola Knyazhytsky — one of the
new council members — called this a clear violation of
existing laws. He said the old council continues to issue
licenses and allocate budget funds to various privatecompanies.
Knyazhytsky reiterated that all of the council's rulings
and licensing decisions issued after Jan. 1 could
potentially be overturned.
"There's a good chance they might not be recognized as
legitimate," he said.
According to Serhy Aksenenko, another of the new council
members appointed by parliament, the statement was issued to
prevent the present council from continuing to make
decisions regarding licenses.
He also said that the council had been informed that all
licenses issued after it received the notification in
mid-April would be invalidated. According to Aksenenko, any
licenses issued prior to the notification but later than
Jan. 1 would be re-examined.
The statement was also meant to act as a warning to
applicants for licenses, he said.
"It's also so that people from the regions don't get
fooled. Petrenko LICENSES, signs a piece of paper that they
pay money for, but it has no juridical value," Aksenenko
told the Post. The Post was unable to reach Petrenko for his comments.
The licensing department of the council was unable to
say how many TV and radio licenses had been granted since
the beginning of the year. The employee who answered the
phone refused to identify herself and said that no such
information was available.
Commenting on the situation in late March, newly
appointed council member Volodymyr Tsendrovsky called the
president's failure to appoint his four new council members
an attempt to control TV and radio broadcasting prior to the
"If the council doesn't resume its activities soon,
Ukraine will experience executive power control of the flow
of information [in Ukraine]," Tsendrovsky said, according to
the Unian news agency.