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‘First’ or ‘Prime’? Accent TV Is Struggling on the Broadcasting Market to Break From the ‘Pie’ of Plahotniuc's Holding Company

22 October 2019
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According to Petru Macovei, Executive Director of the Independent Press Association, the decision of the Broadcasting Council (BC) to grant Accent TV (newly renamed ‘The First in Moldova’) the right to rebroadcast the content of ‘Pervii Kanal’, will make things worse on the broadcasting market in Moldova, and the BC is to blame since it became a passive stakeholder in this situation. At the same time, according to the advertising professionals, the impact will be felt on this market too, especially when it comes to budget redistribution between the advertising houses/companies.

BC’s decision commented by specialists

Asked by Media-azi.md to comment on the BC’s decision, Petru Macovei, the Executive Director of the Independent Press Association (IPA), believed that "President Igor Dodon is strengthening his media holding with the aid of the Broadcasting Council". Petru Macovei mentioned that, "instead of worrying about intoxicating the media market with Russian content, and instead of stimulating the rebroadcast of European content in Romanian language and of the local content by different means, the Council does nothing but stimulate the rebroadcast of Russian content".

Petru Macovei believes that the argument of the BC according to which the two contracts concluded between Prime TV and Accent TV with ‘Pervii Kanal’ are not exclusive and that several companies which broadcast the same content could appear, is unjustified. "This is a problem the BC members should think about, and not just raise their hands like some robots when a file or another complies with the law. The spirit of law also exists outside of the law they claim to observe", says the Executive Director of IPA.

Moreover, according to some sources, the price of the contracts concluded with ‘Pervii Kanal’ would reach up to half a million euro.

Forecasts: Where will the advertising money migrate?

In his turn, the media researcher Victor Gotisan, believes that, once Accent TV obtains the right to rebroadcast the content of ‘Pervii Kanal’, the balance of powers in the media sector in the Republic of Moldova will change dramatically. He forecasts that Accent TV (owned by Vadim Ciubara, who is the owner of Media Invest Service, about whom local media wrote that he was ‘the shadow adviser’ to the President Igor Dodon), will gain much more viewers in the future.
 

"Accent TV will soon become the first channel among the top TV preferences of media consumers. We must admit that the popularity of Prime TV as based namely on the content rebroadcast from ORT/Pervii Kanal (Russia)", said Gotisan

At the same time, according to the researcher, there will be some changes on the advertising market, and Plahotniuc’s Prime TV channel, will lose a part of the income. "Advertising money will migrate from Prime TV to Accent TV. Thus, this move will also change dramatically the advertising market", said Victor Gotisan.

Socialists enjoy the ‘pie’ of Plahotniuc

Petru Macovei also believes that the redistribution of the rights to rebroadcast the media content of ‘Pervii Kanal’ will impact the advertising market. "As far as I understand, it already has impact on the market because the advertising company that serves Dodon's holding company changes its offers in an attempt to break more of the ‘pie’ consumed with great success by Plahotniuc's holding company", Petru Macovei states.

According to the API’s Executive Director, things on the broadcasting market in the Republic of Moldova are getting worse, with the BC being a passive stakeholder and even contributing through its inaction to the degradation of the situation.

Source: Asociația Agențiilor de Publicitate din Moldova

Previously, several TV channels contacted the Competition Council (CC) on a possible cartel agreement between the sales houses Casa Media (sells advertising for Prime, Canal 2, Canal 3, Publika TV, CTC-Mega, Familia Domasnii, N4 and Ren-Moldova) and Exclusive Sales House (Exclusive TV, NTV Moldova). The channels that filed the petition claimed that both sales houses would have agreed that, out of the total amount of the advertising budget, 80% should go to Casa Media sales house, and the remaining 20% budget – to the Exclusive Sales, a fact that was denied by both advertising houses.

Note that Exclusive Sales House belongs to the PSRM MP, Corneliu Furculita, through the Periodical Publication ‘Exclusiv Media’ SRL company. Furculita owns the TV channels NTV Moldova, Exclusiv TV (rebroadcast by TNT), the newspapers ‘Argumenti i Fakti’ and ‘Komsomoliskaia Pravda v Moldove’, also through the PP ‘Exclusiv Media’ SRL company. On the website of the newspaper aif.md, three TV channels are mentioned: NTV Moldova, TNT Bravo and Accent TV

Who will lose and who will win on the advertising market?

What do advertise professionals think about these changes on the media market? The Executive Director of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Moldova (AAAM), Galina Zablovskaya, argues that the nature of the relationship between the mentioned media houses, will not be affected, the impact will be rather on the redistribution of budgets and, in general, on the advertising market.
 

"Casa Media may lose a part of its audience, but it has a high market share. Prime TV probably hopes to produce TV shows similar to those broadcasts by ‘Pervii Kanal’, but in a national interpretation. However, having analyzed the impact of similar projects, carried out so far by this channel, it is clear that one cannot reach the level of rating offered by the content from Moscow with their own forces. ‘Pole Ciudes’ is identified with Iacubovici. Or try to replace Pozner – it's impossible. That is why it will not be easy, although they hope they will be better", Zablovskaya states.
 

The professional in the field of advertising argues that in this case, it is still unclear what format will use the channel Accent TV to broadcast and that this aspect is important for the media coverage. It should be mentioned that, at the moment, Accent TV broadcasts its content via service distributors. "We do not know what they will broadcast live, which will be their own projects will be, what they will resume, what kind of content they will have. It is unclear how the signal will be transmitted. Whether it will stay or not within the frequency of metric waves of Prime... Thus, the technical aspects concerning the coverage in the Republic of Moldova is also important. Will it use the frequency band of decametric waves or how? We do not know. All that we know, is that we have four frequency bands of the metric waves – Moldova 1, Prime, Canal 2, Canal 3, and the fifth one does not exist", Zablovskaya mentioned.

She believes that it is also important who will sell advertising for Accent TV. "For example, Nova TV sells advertising for RTR Moldova, and the rating of this TV channel has been growing a lot recently. If Nova TV sells, the situation on the media market will change significantly. If Exclusive Sales House adds Accent TV on the list of channels it serves, it will become a pretty serious sales house and a strong competitor for ‘Casa Media’. In case a new small sales house is approached, the result will depend on the management of this sales house. This is the case of Pro TV, which has a very good management", added Galina Zablovskaya.

According to the Association of Advertising Agencies of Moldova, the sales of the advertising market in the Republic of Moldova reached about EUR 14 million in 2018. Of which, for example, the advertising sold by Casa Media, from January to August 2018 amounted EUR 4,711,111, by Exclusively Sales House – EUR 1,141,353, and by Nova TV – EUR 1,013651.

Prime TV is one of the most popular TV channels in the Republic of Moldova, both according to the data of the audience measurement company and the sociological surveys.