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BC Extended the Broadcasting License of RTR Moldova Conditionally Until 2028. Media Expert: ‘The Conditioning Voted Won’t Necessarily Work’

19 June 2019
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During its meeting on 19 June, the members of the Broadcasting Council (BC) voted, conditionally, the extension of the broadcasting license of RTR Moldova TV channel. The condition envisages the revision of the General Concept of Program Services, which raised several questions about the volume of content taken from the Russian Federation and the volume of local product broadcast by RTR Moldova.  
During the public debates, BC member Olga Gututui drew the attention of the TV channel representatives that Article 5(2) of the Audiovisual Media Services Code states that audiovisual programs purchased abroad ‘must come at least from 50% of the EU Member States and/or third countries participating in the European Convention on Transfrontier Television’, while the general concept of the TV channel envisages 48.65% of the product taken from the Russian Federation.

Another BC member, Corneliu Mihalache, proposed postponing the review of the issue so that the TV channel could revise its Concept.
Attending the meeting, RTR Moldova representative Diana Covali mentioned that the TV channel aimed at gradually producing more content in Romanian and local content, but this would be difficult to do for the time being. She also added that the media service provider excluded from its broadcasting grid a number of programs made in the Russian Federation, and was currently broadcasting mostly artistic films/series in Russian, which are not produced in Russia.
BC Chair Dragos Vicol was for the extension of the broadcasting license of RTR Moldova, on the grounds that ‘any other arbitrary action admitted by BC will be treated as such by the development partners, by those watching TV, without taking into account certain ‘loopholes’... Vicol said that in the future, the post would be monitored, and if it breaks the law it will be held accountable.

Petru Macovei, Executive Director of the Association of Independent Press (API), was stunned by BC decision to extend the licence. ‘I still don’t understand why the Council extended RTR license without the latter changing its project according to the law? The conditioning voted won’t necessarily work, just as it didn’t work for NTV Moldova’, Macovei wrote on his Facebook page.

Note that previously, BC publicly warned RTR Moldova for insufficient content in Romanian in its local audiovisual programs.
Note that Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Oleg Vasnetov, met with some BC members in early April. According to BC press release, they discussed about ‘the need to identify a specific arrangement for the Russian channels that broadcast in the Republic of Moldova’. The Russian Ambassador was reportedly of the opinion that ‘any possible amendment of the Audiovisual Media Services Code should take into account that the Russian minority is much larger than the statistical data show. Therefore, certain special prerogatives must be established in line with the OSCE rules, especially as regards the share of local product and the frequency of shows in Romanian.’