Belarusian Draft Law "On Mass Media" Adopted after the 2nd Reading

2008 2008-06-24T19:20:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

The Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus has adopted the Law «On Mass Media» after the 2nd reading. 96 MPs supported the bill and 2 parliamentarians voted against it, the «Interfax-West» News Agency informs.

The Head of Committee on Human Rights, National Relations and Mass MediaYury Kulakouski says, a range of proposals from the «SB. Belarus Today» («The Soviet Byelorussia»), «The Economic Newspaper», the Belarusian Association of Journalists and the OSCE representative’s on Media Freedom Office were included in the final version of the draft law.

Mr. Kulakouski mentioned separate amendments, included in the draft bill before the 2nd reading.

In particular, he spoke about the BAJ proposal regarding the work of correspondents' outlets. These are regarded as departments of legal entities instead of representations, as it was outlined in the initial version of the draft law, RFE/RL reports.

Certain amendments about re-registration of media outlets were included in the law. Initially, it was suggested that mass media organizations had to get officially re-registered, while
changing the legal address. Presently, it will be enough to inform the registering authority about
the address change.

The MPs supported the BAJ proposal to set the maximum term of three months for solving conflicts between media outlets and the state authorities. The term wasn’t stipulated before at all.

Following a proposal from the OSCE Office in Minsk, it has been noted in the last version of the draft bill that media outlets are not held accountable for information that gets broadcast in live programs, RFE/RL reports.

Coordination Board on the Media with representatives of state institutions, public associations and media outlets will be founded, Y. Kulakouski stressed in his interview to the «Interfax-West» News Agency. Provisions on the Board’s activity will be determined by the Council of Ministers of Belarus (instead of the Ministry of Information, as it was suggested before).

The legal norm on banning violations of «generally accepted language norms» has been excluded from the document after the 2nd reading, «as no norms of the kind exist», Y. Kulakouski emphasized. A demand on barring the use of unquotable words and expressions has been included in the bill instead.

Yury Kulakouski assured the public that «the draft law regulates the activity of Internet analogues of mass media only». «They have to correspond to the printed versions. Only that they don’t have to get officially re-registered», he said.

However, the MP failed to explain to journalists how to reach full correspondence of information, presented in the printed/broadcast media and their Internet versions, the «Interfax-West» News Agency reports.

Surprisingly, specialists from the National Center for Legislation and Legal Studies at the Presidential Administration didn't find any inaccuracies and produced no remarks or amendments to the text of the draft law, directed to them for consideration by the Belarusian MPs on June 20, 2008, as Ihar Halubitski, the Head of Constitutional Legislation Center's Department noted.

He told BAJ Press Service that the urgent legal examination of the draft bill was a compulsory requirement only. "It happens in cases, when the Council of Ministers submits a law for consideration and simultaneously recommends the term for its legal examination. It is obvious that in this case no generally accepted terms of a fortnight or even a month wouldn't suit", Ihar Halubitski said.