The chairman of the State Committee on Information Policy, Television and Radio Broadcasting, Ivan Chizh, has voiced concerns over gross violations of the Law on Advertising and the Law on Television and Radio Broadcasting.

In particular, he has severely criticized television channels for running commercials during films and programmes, which he argues infringes the Law on Advertising. The committee further contends that the airtime which commercials are given far exceeds the statutory cap of 15% (ie, 9 minutes per hour). "The excessive airing of commercials is a common practice among nearly all Ukrainian television companies, despite the provisions of Article 12 of the Law on Advertisement," Chizh was quoted as saying. According to a research report commissioned by Video International Kyiv, the country's largest media holding company, the cost of television advertising will likely increase steadily over the next decade, resulting in increased advertisement budgets and bigger profits for the nation's broadcasters. The report reveals that television stations' advertising revenues are expected to grow significantly this year, continuing the trend.

As television airtime is a limited commodity, advertisers are using every possible (including legally dubious) means to extend the run of television commercials.

As the television advertising of alcoholic beverages is explicitly prohibited by the Law on Television and Radio Broadcasting, the existing practice of indirectly advertising alcoholic beverages under the guise of trademark advertising is another major issue to be addressed by the committee. Earlier this year two Kiev-based non-profit organizations filed a lawsuit against the National Board of Television and Radio Broadcasting, accusing it of leniency towards television channels that advertise hard liquor in violation of the law. Broadcasters have since joined the dispute by lobbying for the repeal of these restrictions (for further details please see Possible Alcohol Advertising Ban Threatens TV Revenues).

Chizh also accuses television companies of airing programmes with excessive violence, obscenity and nudity, and of targeting these programmes at children and teenagers. He maintains that there is a shortage of decent, socially oriented programmes. The commercial television channels are charged with the most flagrant infringements; Chizh acknowledges that UT-1 and other state owned channels have adopted a more moderate policy and make programmes highlighting Ukrainian culture, political and social life.

In view of this situation, the committee is set on eliminating the violations. It plans to conduct a joint meeting with the National Board on Television and Radio Broadcasting in order to develop a uniform policy with respect to violations of broadcasting requirements and to enhance supervision of television broadcasting.

For further information on this topic please contact Igor Svechkar or Dmytro Fedoruk at Shevchenko, Didkovskiy & Partners by telephone (+380 44 230 6000) or by fax (+380 44 230 6001) or by email ([email protected]).