Days of Electronic Communications: the pursuit of truth, trust and transformation in the telecommunications and media fields

The FIRST INTERNATIONAL MEETING CALLED DAYS OF ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS (abbreviated as DEC) took place in Odesa. It was organized by Ukrainian Internet Association (InAU), Association of Legal Owners and Suppliers of Contents (APPK) and Latvian Association of Electronic Communications.

This is the first large-scale convergent event, bringing together representatives of both telecom and media industries. The conference was supported by the Council of Europe’s Project on the protection of freedom of expression in Internet, National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting, National Electronic Mass Media Council of Latvian Republic, Ukraine’s people deputies Oleksandr Danchenko and Grigory Shverk.

In their addresses OLEXANDR DANCHENKO, Head of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee, and MAKSYM STEPANOV, Head of Odesa Regional State Administration, congratulated the conference participants on the occasion of its opening and wished them fruitful work and constructive dialogue (see here).

THE FIRST SESSION of the conference was devoted to the discussion of the reforms in the field of telecommunications and media.

The performances of Oleksandr Fedienko, Chairman of InAU board, Natalya Klitna, Chairman of APPK board, Leonid Osherov, “TELAS” Association Head of Board, Uliyana Feshchuk, Deputy Chairman of National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting, became the basis for the discussion by the conference participants of the legislative innovations in ICT field and their influence on the industry, market expectations from the draft-laws “On Electronic Communications”, “On Radio Frequency Resources of Ukraine”, “On Audiovisual Media Services”, the question of preserving the European vector of reforms and ways to counteract the abduction and damage of telecom networks in the context of national security.

OLEKSANDR FEDIENKO on counteracting the  abduction and damage of telecom networks: “Untill the theft of telecommunication equipment and cables is not reclassified from the financial losses into the crimes harming the State’s information security, counteracting these crimes will be ineffective”.

NATALYA KLITNA on the European vector of reforms: “There is a gap in understanding the European vector of reforms between the market participants and the Government representatives. The guarantee of this gap’s elimination is in the dialogue and cooperation. At the conclusion of the Conference, its participants will sign the Communiqué, which will become our roadmap for the coming year”.

ULIYANA FESHCHUK on the draft-law on audiovisual media services: “According to the profile parliamentary committee, the draft-law has already been developed and will be registered in the nearest future. In particular, the project provides for a registration principle for program service providers, as well as the list of prohibited programs creation: instead of the “white” list the “black” one will be introduced”.

See the 1st session presentations:

The participants of the meeting agreed that in order to ensure the effective reform of the industry on the basis of the European course of Ukraine, the development of legislation in the field of telecommunications and media should take place with the broad involvement of the domestic business entities representatives under the relevant expertise of the European specialists.

During the SECOND SESSION the issues of implementation of the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Construction, Transport, and Power Facilities for Telecommunication Networks Development of ” were discussed.

The discussion was led with the conference participants by the Head of InAU Committee on Access to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Anatoliy Piatnikov, Deputy Director of the Communication Department of the National Communications and Information Regulatory Commission Deputy Director of Communicatipons Grygoriy Grysha, “TELAS” Association Head of Board Leonid Osherov, APPK representative Svitlana Yurevych concerned the implementation of the law on the access to the infrastructure, first-priority steps regarding the interaction with Oblenergo, local authority and PJSC “Ukrtelecom”, the filed’s tasks of the regulatory documents development and other issues solution.

LEONID OSHEROV on the further tasks: “The law on access to the infrastructure is an important asset of the telecommunications field. Now our common task is to complete work on the development of rules and procedures in accordance with the law”.

ANATOLIY PIATNIKOV on the benefits of implementing the law on access to the infrastructure: “Now we have got a clear procedure on the responsibility and terms of interaction with power engineering, which allows to plan the construction of telecommunication networks”.

GRYGORIY GRYSHA on the rules of access to cable telecommunications canalization: “The National Commission for State Regulation in the field of Communication and Information is ahead of everyone in the processing of their part of the documents in accordance with the Law on the access. We took into account the comments of the market representatives in the draft rules on the access to the infrastructure of CTC and by the end of the month we are planning to submit the document to the meeting of the Commission, followed by the presentation of a public discussion. We are expecting operators and associations to submit proposals for the analysis of regulatory influence”.

See the 2nd session presentations:

The THIRD SECTION was organized under the brand Astro.

The technological innovations for the development of business of telecommunication operators were the theme of a number of speeches by Astro Strobel GmbH Germann Geer representative and the company’s partners on the following issues:

The first day of the conference was finished by the FOURTH SESSION, devoted to the Supervision, Quality, Reporting, State as a Guarantor of Balance of the Users’ and Telecommunication Operators’ Interests.

During the discussion on the issues of blocking access to the Internet resources, ways of directing the state’s repressive apparatus from legal players to illegal, the European telecommunication surveillance experience, the quality of presentation services, telecommunications market expert Oleksandr Baranov, Head of InAU Committee on the Protection of Human Rights and Freedom of Speech Maksym Tulyev, National Communications and Informatization Regulatory Commission Department Deputy Director – Head of State supervision of State Supervision Department Vasyl Guda and USCRF representative Sergiy Tymchenko made their presentations.

OLEKSANDR BARANOV on the European approach to the reform of the telecommunications field: «The European approach is a presumption of innocence and a presumption of good faith, based on trust and control. National Communications and Informatization Regulatory Commission, operators and consumers are partners in achieving the main objective of telecommunications reform: access of the users to the maximally possible range of high-quality telecommunication services».

SERGIY TYMCHENKO regarding the quality of access to the Internet: «The total number of measurements we have in the past year was more than 250, this year it is increasing. All measurements have demonstrated the compliance with the established standards».

MAKSYM TULYEV about liability for blocking: «If the provider has re-blocked something (overblocking), he is liable to the client by art. 148-2 of the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses, and if it has been blocked partially or not blocked at all, no liability is yet prescribed».

VASYL GUDA on counteraction to the illigals: «Today’s legislation does not give the right to counteract the illegals: it is impossible to carry out state supervision measures in relation to business entities that are not included in the register of operators, telecommunication providers. In addition, the legislation does not specify the procedure for termination of the operation of REM, telecommunication facilities that are exploited in violation of the requirements of legislation in the field of telecommunications and RFR and whose owners are not identified».

See the 4th session presentations:

The FIFTH SESSION of the conference was devoted to the discussion of the European standards in the field of audiovisual media services as well as new media.

The speeches of Oleksandr Danchenko, Chairman of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Informatization and Communication, Tanja Kerševan Smokvina, independent expert of Council of Europe, Grygoriy Shverk, Ukraine People’s Deputy, Gunta Līdaka, Deputy Chairman of the National Electronic Mass Media Council of Latvian Republic, and of the profile associations’ representatives Ucha Seturi (Georgia), Natalya Klitna, Oleksandr Fedienko, Inese Aleksandrova (Latvia), Vadim Sidorenko (Triolan), Ivan Shestakov (MEGOGO), Oleksandr Kovalskiy (Ericsson) considered the issues of cybersecurity, internet resources blocking, European approaches to regulating online content services, world trends in television content consumption.

OLEKSANDR DANCHENKO regarding Internet resources blocking: “This is fundamentally wrong as the main element of the strategy, even considering a difficult situation in Ukraine. The problem with our field is that it is scattered across different ministries. There is currently no coordination, and everyone can use this decree, for example, for raiding. This issue is a part of the state’s cybersecurity, and it must be prescribed in the Law. We will consider it at the next meeting of the Committee”.

TANJA KERŠEVAN SMOKVINA on Internet control: “Everyone hoped that the Internet should democratize the communication and act without the mediators’ intervention. But this forecast was too optimistic. The Internet is still controlled by large corporations and States. We have to admit that there are gateways in the Internet, and there are those who control these gateways. There are more and more cases of State interference and digital intermediaries. Such interventions are often opaque. The EU now wants to make sure that individual countries will not take radical measures”.

GRYGORIY SHVERK regarding the deadlines for passing of the draft-law on audiovisual services: “The draft-law on audiovisual services was created for EU money several years ago. Ukraine had to have passed it already. There is a very large relaxation in it regarding the replacement of licensing by registration, reduced necessity of fees and filing. The draft-law introduces concepts that are not yet regulated by the legislation of Ukraine. The final text will be available in the next few days. We will work to pass the document into the Parliament as fast as possible, but, taking into account the comments of the industry. We hope to adopt the law by the end of the year”.

ULIYANA FESHCHUK about legislative innovations: “The law contains a number of innovations: regarding social responsibility of media in the field of children’s protection, storage of programs, allocation of funds for market research is foreseen. It also provides the possibility of establishing a co-regulatory body with associations and market participants”.

GUNTA LĪDAKA on synchronization of legislation in Europe: «We have had a lot of issues that were discussed in Ukraine back in the day. In Europe, the issues of synchronization of legislation are very important. There are interests of small countries, there are interests of large countries with big markets, there are many problems regarding the consensus achieving. We have a major issue of how digital content survives on the local market, available to the powerful players from other countries».

UCHA SETURI regarding the risks of freedom of speech in the Internet: «The most important thing in the Internet is to ensure the freedom of speech. Challenges that carry the risks of censorship are risks for the democracy. And there are articles in the law against propaganda. We in Georgia have developed the ISP Self-Regulatory Code, we will present this document at the National Internet Governance Forum IGF».

See the 5th session presentations:

During the SIXTH SESSION of the conference, the issues of interaction between the state and business, piracy, information security, and the activities of security forces in the field of telecommunications were discussed.

In their speeches Valentine Koval, Member of National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broad; Oleksandr Paputsya («Smart Solutions» law firm), Nick Faengold, Fedir Grechaninov, (StarLightDigital), Pavlo Mykolyuk (LF Vindex), Svitlana Dudnyk (InAU), Viacheslav Kuliush (Prychornomorsky Department of Cyberpolice of National Police of Ukraine) highlighted the issues of piracy counteracting, the powers of state bodies in this area, interaction with law enforcement agencies, peculiarities of judicial protection in the field of copyright, discussed the legislative initiatives on counteraction to offenses using the Internet.

IVAN SHESTAKOV: “Over the past year, due to the closure of the main pirate online cinemas and MEGOGO audience who pay has grown 2.5 times. Today it is only 2%, but it brings the service 40% of revenue. Changes in anti-piracy laws (the Law on State support for Cinematography) and the activation of cyberpolice do their thing, but because of the presence of two gray zones in the country (Donbas and Crimea) and Transnistria along the side of the Odesa region pirates have a chance to prosper”.

NICK FAENGOLD: “There is a number of operators who initially received threatening letters from our Content Monitoring Center, and with whom we have dialogized. Fortunately, the 81 provider decided to enter the legal field and began to cooperate. As for the rest of the offenders, we do not want to go to the economic courts. We want to go under the Criminal Code. As it turned out, there are some difficulties”.

See the 6th session presentations:

The conference was completed by the SEVENTH SECTION which was devoted to the issues of unfair competition and problems of interaction with state’s leading broadcasters.

In their speeches Maria Protsyshen, state representative of Antimonopoly Commitee of Ukraine, Inese Aleksandrova, Executive Director of Latvian Association of Electronic Communication, Oleksandr Arutiunyan (Pautina.Net LLC), Igor Khlupin (Intrafic LLC), Yaroslav Pakholchuk (1+1-Media), Juri Kotlyarov (Juscutum Advocacy Association), Vadim Sidorenko (Triolan), Nina Kucheruk (LC Jurimex), Oleg Chernysh, Member of National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting, focused on the issues of dumping in accordance with the legislation of Ukraine, mechanisms of unfair competition in the field of telecommunications counteracting, cases of misleading consumers and requirements for the distribution of partner television services, controversial provisions in agreements with TV and radio organizations, ways to enhance ARPU. Also the issues regarding the consideration of AMCU statements of profile associations on the methods of implementation of the updated in 2017 universal program service and the prospects of the domestic operators and leading broadcasters interaction were discussed.

MARIA PROTSYSHEN: “Communication with the Conference participants revealed two main problems: regarding dumping and implementation of universal program service, which is associated with legislative changes as of  January 1st, 2017. But the issue of dumping needs economic analysis. The Antimonopoly Committee should intervene only when the benefits of competition are obtained through unlawful actions. If this is a fierce competition, we do not interfere. It is important not to be confused with the dumping action, which may be similar to it, for example, when the entity’s low cost allows to reduce its prices”.

NINA KUCHERUK: “Unlike other countries, in Ukraine there is no legally established definition of “dumping” and its restrictions. In the field of telecommunications there is, and in the activity of providers of software services – not. Therefore, it would be logical to improve the legislation and to prohibit dump pricing by service providers, cross-subsidization, etc”.

INESE ALEKSANDROVA regarding the average check in Ukraine and in Latvia: “If I were a subscriber to the Ukrainian telecom market, I would be jealous of myself. But I do not understand how such services at such tariffs can exist, in particular, without mass copyright infringement. Operators of Latvia managed to overcome the crisis and increase the average check of the cost of telecom services from 1-2 euro in the early 2000’s to 15-20 euros today. The rights holders have played significant role in raising tariffs”.

OLEG CHERNYSH about the termination of analogue broadcasting: “Everyone understands that the switch-off of analogue television will not happen on June 30th, 2017. We will initiate a deferral for a different date. My point is that this will happen on June 30th, 2020, when the elections will end. The market can itself handle this issue, as companies now have a double load, it is difficult for them to sell content in different ways and they can withdraw their licenses for analogue broadcasting before the set date”.

See the 7th session presentations:

The conference participants have considered the draft Final Communiqué, which, after comments have been taken into account, will be sent to the relevant state authorities.

The Conference WAS SUPPORTED BY: