Friday, March 17, 2017

Ukrainian language set for media boost in new law

March 17, 2017 (BBC Europe) A new law in Ukraine requires at least 75% of national TV broadcasts to be in the Ukrainian language. It is a very sensitive issue for the country's many Russian speakers, with the conflict in eastern Ukraine partly about ethnic Russians' language rights. The language quota for local TV and radio stations has been set at 50%. The law is still going through parliament and requires presidential approval. President Petro Poroshenko has called for more Ukrainian language use on TV.
Ukrainian sociological research last year found Russian to be the main language of Ukrainian TV, press, the services sector and Ukrainian websites. The language issue is at the heart of the Ukraine conflict. Even though there had been little tension between Ukrainian and Russian speakers before hostilities erupted, the Kremlin said Russians in Ukraine faced "genocide" and deserved protection, by military means if necessary. Kiev, on the other hand, has been saying that it is the Ukrainian language that needs to be protected following decades of Soviet rule. Russian-language programming on TV has to have Ukrainian subtitles - even though it would be hard to find anyone in Ukraine who did not understand Russian. Any TV programmes that are seen as Russian propaganda are banned outright.

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The latest move has divided opinion in Ukraine. Critics say it will do nothing to win the hearts and minds of Russian speakers. "This law will violate the rights of millions of Ukrainian citizens whose mother tongue is Russian," said a statement by Inter, Ukraine's most popular TV channel which mostly broadcasts in Russian. But Oleksandr Tkachenko, the head of another popular Ukrainian television channel - One Plus One - supported the new law, calling it "a historic event". The full article is available at