A law establishing a quota for Ukrainian-language programming on television has passed its first reading in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.
If the bill becomes law, national level TV and radio stations would be obliged to broadcast at least 75% of programmes and films in the Ukrainian language. This quota would apply across two separate time frames — from 7am — 6pm and from 6pm — 10pm — so as to ensure a fairly even spread across the day.
In addition, the draft law stipulates that programmes produced externally and not aired in the state language — for example, foreign sitcoms — should have Ukrainian subtitles.
There can be some relief for those worried that this could constitute a blanket ban on speaking Russian on Ukrainian TV: as long as a programme’s main presenters speak in Ukrainian, using other languages during the broadcast is permissible, e.g. comments by guests to a talk show. This seems a fairly essential exception, given that at present it is fairly common to tune in and hear conversations where one party is speaking Ukrainian and the other responds in Russian.
According to the bill, the Crimean Tatar language would also count towards any Ukrainian language quota.
Ukrainian is Ukraine’s sole official language, although the majority of the population can speak Russian, with around a third of the population considering Russian their mother tongue.