Ukrainian language television broadcasting quotas

Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine Concerning the Language of Audiovisual (Electronic) Mass Media”

June 13, 2017

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

November 13, 2017


Introduction of language quotas for TV to sustain and promote the broadcasting in Ukrainian language

The proportion of Ukrainian language content grew gradually and now the quotas’ are complied with by practically all the broadcasters. While the TV channels heavily exploited the system of loopholes in the initial law, the recent legislative amendments and the full-scale invasion eliminated the media’s ability to avoid this legislation’s implementation.

Act’s description and legal basis

The first iteration of the language quotas legislation for TV broadcasters entered into force in October 2017, providing an obligation to broadcast at least 75% of weekly TV programs in Ukrainian. According to it, local broadcasters carried a less strict burden of Ukrainian weekly quota – 60%. This quota applied to two periods: between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. An additional 75% quota is applied to the news broadcasting in the same periods by all the TV broadcasters, notwithstanding their regional category.

A product shall be produced, dubbed, or voiced in Ukrainian to satisfy the quota requirement. If there was live programming, the program fell within the quota when all the presenters’ remarks were in Ukrainian (no such requirement applied to the language of the programs’ guests). Failure to comply with the law could have resulted in a fine of 5% of the total amount of the license fee. 

Later in 2019, the Parliament tightened the language quota requirements by increasing the proportion of Ukrainian language content for national and regional broadcasters from 75% to 90% and, for local broadcasters, from 60% to 80% in the respective periods. The news quota was also extended to 90%. This amendment was scheduled to enter into force on 16 July 2024). Subsequently, the Law of Ukraine “On Media”, entering into force on 31 March 2023, practically confirmed the exact requirement but shifted the time of their entry into force to 1 January 2024.

The initial Law introducing the quotas provided several exceptions to accommodate  particular cases of partial broadcasting in foreign languages. Two of them were preserved in the Law “On Media”:

  • the use of 10% of foreign language quotations in a broadcasted film is acceptable to count it in the quota, provided that this part is subtitled in Ukrainian;
  • for media broadcasting in indigenous peoples’ languages (Crimean Tatar, Karaim, and Krymchak) the weekly quota constitutes 75% of combined broadcasting in Ukrainian and such indigenous language, 30% in Ukrainian and 45% in the indigenous language respectively.

Other exceptions for broadcasting in foreign languages include their use in:

  • live coverages (except for journalists of the respective media); 
  • songs with lyrics that are part of a non-musical program or film and are used only as an accompanying sound;
  • music videos that contain an accompanying text;
  • works and performances in the indigenous languages;
  • fair use cases; 
  • spontaneous remarks or performances by program participants in live broadcasts, except for the hosts, if not exceeding 10% of the program’s duration and dubbed for any subsequent broadcasting of such programs.

The quotas also do not apply to international broadcasting (“DOM” channel established under the Law “On the System of International Broadcasting in Ukraine”), foreign language educational channels, and foreign linear media whose retransmission is allowed on the territory of Ukraine.

The Law “On Media” also established specific requirements for the non-linear audiovisual services under Ukrainian jurisdiction, obliging them to introduce 25% of Ukrainian language content in their catalogs and the audiovisual services providers (those are cable, satellite, or IPTV providers), which shall distribute 60% of channels in Ukrainian in their packages. The 25% and 60% requirements would only enter into force in April 2026. Prior to these requirements’ implementation, the quota will gradually increase yearly and constitute 10% and 30% from April 2024 and 15% and 45% from April 2025, respectively. 

The new Law of Ukraine “On Media” systemizes the language quota requirements, classifying non-compliance with quotas as a significant violation. It implies sanctions, mainly fines, differentiated by the stakeholder status: 

  • linear audiovisual media services and providers of audiovisual services may face a fine reaching 10% of their license fee or between 5 and 40 minimal wages (33,500-268,000 UAH or 840-6,700 EUR as of March 2023); 
  • non-linear audiovisual media services (on-demand services) may face a fine reaching between 30 and 40 minimal wages (201,000-268,000 UAH or 5,025-6,700 EUR as of March 2023).

When determining the sum of the fine, the National Broadcasting Council (NBC) shall consider the technology applied, territorial coverage, and other relevant aspects that make the violation more threatening to public order, such as the number of channels in packages and the number of subscribers for the audiovisual service providers. In case any of the subjects above commits any second significant violation in a year, it will be subjected to a doubled fine, while 6 significant violations per year will lead the NBC to apply to a court demanding the license revocation or registration cancellation. 


This law brought a substantial shift for TV channels broadcasting by changing their linguistic patterns, but the system of exceptions made the Law less stringent. It was exploited by the major media holdings since their business models remained oriented on the Russian market. It was not rare that media companies initially developed the same product for both Ukrainian and Russian markets. In this light, the Language Ombudsman’s language quotas monitoring in June 2021 revealed that among 43 TV series, only 14 are produced, dubbed, or voiced in Ukrainian; the other 29 – in Russian, thereby filling the 25% of time allocated for non-Ukrainian language programming with the same type of content. 

Another loophole was also extensively exploited. When only hosts used to have a duty to speak Ukrainian, other guests often kept speaking Russian. At the same time, previously Russian-speaking channels acquired prime-time news segments in Ukrainian. In the second half of 2022, in Kyiv and 11 regions, all the programs and news were broadcasted in Ukrainian. Most regional channels broadcast more than 90% of the time in Ukrainian. Therefore, the full-scale invasion in 2022 finally turned the tide and led to the media’s understanding of the quotas’ importance during armed aggression.

As to the quotas’ enforcement, from 2016 through 2019, the NBC imposed 8 fines. After 2019, the NBC applied fines reaching 5% of companies’ license fees for both regional and national broadcasters: 

  • in October 2019, the NBC applied a fine of 11,038.5 UAH to the company from Mariupol, TV-7 (approximately 276 EUR in March 2023);   
  • in July 2021, the NBC applied a fine of 71,488.95 UAH to the national broadcaster 1+1 (approximately 1,788 EUR in March 2023);  
  • in January 2022, the NBC applied a fine of 2,853.15 UAH to the company from Ivano-Frankivsk, Vezha (approximately 71.4 EUR in March 2023);
  • in February 2022, the NBC applied a fine of  186,199.05 UAH to K1 (approximately 4,658.4 EUR in March 2023); 
  • in February 2022, the NBC applied a fine of 24,934.05 UAH to the national broadcaster, NASH (approximately 623.7 EUR in March 2023).   

Public opinion on language quotas changed over time. In 2018, the polls tracked only 33% of Ukrainians supporting the measure. By 2020, the number of those supporting the measure reached 65%.