On February 1, 2011, the Verkhovna Rada adopted in the first reading a bill on amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On television and radio broadcast,” which provides for the abolition of quotas for national music products. Its purpose is to bypass the minimum requirement of at least 50 percent of compositions being by Ukrainian authors or performers. A total of 240 deputies voted for this resolution, from the Party of Regions, the Communist Party of Ukraine, the Lytvyn Block and non-fractional deputies.
Olena Bondarenko, the bill’s author and the head of the subcommittee on television and radio broadcasting of the Verkhovna Rada committee on freedom of speech and information, explains that the bill will bring Ukrainian legislation in line with the demands of European Convention on Transfrontier Television, informs Telekrytyka.
Moreover, according to Bondarenko, there isn’t enough Ukrainian music to set a 50 percent quota for it. Thereby, “the audience does not receive various information. This violates the conditions of pluralism in audiovisual media,” claims the national deputy.
What will the abolition of quotas in Ukrainian media lead to? Music reviewer Yurko ZELENY comments: “When the question concerns protecting something Ukrainian, we instantly begin covering ourselves with various European charters, standards and agreements. But for a person that thinks rationally it’s obvious that this is nothing but deceit, covering up the destruction of everything Ukrainian-speaking. The same goes for this whining — as if we have few Ukrainian products. I don’t say there are too many Ukrainian records, but quite a few have been made in the past 20 years! It is like a vicious circle. On the one hand, they say we have little music, on the other — they do everything so that we’d have it even less.
“I’m not one of those people who thinks establishing quotas is a panacea. Good intentions, as it is known, pave the road to hell. In fact, the roots of this problem are that our informational space in not Ukrainian at all. And those state bodies, which are to keep it pro-Ukrainian, do not fulfill their duties.
“All these years no one really followed the established quotas. There wasn’t any case of punishing this or that broadcaster — radio, TV or Internet — for conducting anti-Ukrainian propaganda or not following the licensing obligations. This card is drawn out only in cases when they start some, conditionally speaking, “showdowns” connected with redistribution of property between the newly rich.
“Besides, the radio stations of Ukraine (I cannot call them “Ukrainian”) have easily evaded all quotas: for instance, they broadcast solely Ukrainian-speaking songs somewhere between 2 and 6 a.m., formally following the legislative requirements. This is a ‘music ghetto’ (to use the apt expression of Misko Barbara from the Dead Rooster band).
“Canceling the quotas does not have any special significance for Ukrainians. There has been little music in Ukrainian on air, and there is going to be even less. As a result, that good wave we observed since the 2000s, when songs in Ukrainian had from 30 to 40 percent of airtime, will go to naught. Moreover, they broke out to the first places of all-Ukrainian top 40s (that is they were among the 40 most popular musical works in the country). We increasingly recoil from the sprouts of ‘Ukrainian’ Ukraine back to the ‘soviet’ one. And we see it everywhere today, in this country that is not really our own.
“Personally, I advise everyone just to get rid of their TV and radio sets. In the 21st century these are remnants of a past age. As for the web, there is a threat that access to some pages might be restricted. We seem to have sunk low indeed.”