Media Law Institute and Niras organised a side event, devoted to transparency of media ownership, on 25 September within the OSCE annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2013 that was taking place in Warsaw.
MLI promoted it by drafting the announcement before the event, posting it on its website and sending it out its partners, alumni of its Media Law School so on (see the announcement attached in annex 2). Also, ODIHR informed the participants of the HDIM about this side event by posting information on its web-page a week before the Workshop started, including the schedule of side events into participants’ packs and an announcement put on the notice board at the HDIM premises. MLI lawyers have also highlighted the subject-matter and conveyed invitations to the event while their intervention at the morning general session with Ms Dunja Mijatovich participation, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
The event started with the opening statement by the Ukrainian OSCE Chairmanship representative, namely by Ms Mariana Betsa, counsellor thereto.
Media experts from Turkey, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine shared their countries` case studies as to the achievements gained and drawbacks faced regarding transparency of media ownership.
The agenda with experts` golden paragraphs printed out and distributed while the event can be found attached in annex 3.
Specifically, delivering an up-to-date overview of the mass media ownership in Ukraine, Mr Igor Rozkladaj, MLI lawyer, outlined the market structure in Ukraine’s media sector, consequences of privatization processes and analysed recent legislative changes.
Mr Vitaliy Yarynych, NGO Telekritika, Ukraine, highlighted potential of the Public Service Broadcasting as a promising instrument in ‘balancing out’ the ownership discrepancy in Ukraine.
Furthermore, Mr Yavuz Baydar, media expert and veteran journalist from Turkey, shared his assessment of the Turkish media market as largely private-owned with a widespread cross-ownership of telecom and construction, gas, insurance and other companies.
In her turn, Ms Doina Costin, media lawyer from Moldova, defined the main problems that lead to a lack of transparency and of access to information about the owners of media outlets in Moldova as ones arising from the existing legal framework, despite adopted amendments to the Broadcasting Code of Moldova.
Also, the media landscape of Belarus was depicted by Mr Andrei Aliaksandrau, Belarusian media expert and journalist, who called the media a weapon in any country and affirmed that the state remains a key owner of mass media in Belarus with Internet perceived as the last resort here.
For his part, Mr Emin Huseynov, chairman of the Institute for Reporters freedom and Safety in Azerbaijan, gave a comprehensive presentation on the media market in Azerbaijan, its regulatory framework governing the media ownership with illustrative examples of monopolisation in the field.
Finally, experience of Georgia in ensuring of the media ownership transparency was shared as a best practice case by Mr Lasha Tugushi, lawyer and editor of online newspapers. Specifically, the described success was inter alia attributed to the ban of offshore ownership and enhanced financial transparency of the media outlets in Georgia.
Also, a reporter from the Radio Free Europe, based in Warsaw, has interviewed some experts involved in the event.
All in all, it appears the Eastern Partnership countries and Turkey are facing common challenges in ensuring the media ownership transparency, so the experts involved have compile their concise follow-up recommendations on the matter. Recommendations are reproduced in annex 4.
Media Law Institute shall equally consider thematic cooperation while refining the recently adopted law in Ukraine with the aim to elaborate workable guarantees for the media ownership transparency that remains a prerequisite for securing media pluralism and freedom of expression.