New East Digital Archive

Ukrainian President signs TV language quota into law, but Soviet films escape scot-free

Ukrainian President signs TV language quota into law, but Soviet films escape scot-free
Still from popular Ukrainian TV series The Servant of the Nation (Image: Sergey Marchenko /

7 June 2017

Yesterday Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a law establishing a quota for Ukrainian-language programming on television and radio, with special provisions made for Soviet films and a significant transition period in place.

The bill, which was supported by 269 lawmakers in its final vote on 23 May, obliges national level TV and radio stations to broadcast at least 75% of programmes and films in the Ukrainian language. This quota applies across two separate time frames — from 7am—6pm and from 6pm—10pm — so as to ensure a fairly even spread across the day. Programmes produced externally and not aired in the state language — for example, foreign sitcoms — should have Ukrainian subtitles.

Under the new law, which will come into force in fourth months, television stations that violate the regulations face a fine of five per cent of the total licence fee.

While the law has caused significant controversy among native Russian speakers in Ukraine, with Ukraine’s Inter Media Group claiming that “this bill violates the rights of millions of Ukrainians, for whom Russian is the mother tongue”, in addition to speakers of other minority languages, its wording provides for a lengthy transition period and special status for Russian-language Ukrainian programming.

“The law will come into force four months after its signing, but for a year programmes produced in Ukraine will be counted as falling under the Ukrainian-language quota, even if they are in Russian, giving the channels time to switch to Ukrainian,” explained Viktoria Siumar, who heads the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Expression and Information Policy.

In addition, while foreign-language movies must be dubbed or voiced in Ukrainian, this rule will not apply to Soviet-made films. These need not be translated into Ukrainian, but will not be counted as part of the mandatory Ukrainian-language quota.

Source: Kyiv Post