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IJC report: Four television stations continued engaging in partisanship in favor of some candidates

03 November 2020
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Four out of the ten television stations monitored by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) during the electoral campaign for the November 1, 2020 presidential elections continued massively favoring certain candidates between October 23 and 31. At the same time, some of the mentioned stations changed their approach to candidates, giving the majority of them chance to speak in at least 1-2 news stories about their electoral priorities. These are some of the main conclusions of the fifth monitoring report, launched by the IJC on Tuesday, November 3.
According to the report, the public television station Moldova 1 offered access to news to all electoral candidates who organized campaign activities, the tone of their coverage being in most cases neutral, as well as in the case of political parties. Among electoral competitors, Igor Dodon, independent candidate supported by PSRM, had one appearance in a negative context, and the Government representatives were presented mainly neutrally and twice in positive light. The station treated all electoral competitors who appeared in news about the campaign equally, presenting their electoral objectives.
Primul in Moldova, NTV Moldova, and Accent TV often used the same angles of approach, showing obviously privileged treatment of some electoral candidates. Thus, these stations followed and broadly covered the campaign activities of Igor Dodon, who was massively favored both by the high frequency of appearances/airtime allocated to direct speeches, and by the positive tone. Also, these stations broadcast a total of 64 positive materials about the activities of PSRM, as well as of central and local public administration, which were favorable for Igor Dodon. On the other hand, the PAS candidate Maia Sandu was mentioned more than cited by these stations, the tone of coverage being negative in 22 cases. The other competitors appeared less often. It should be noted that most of the competitors, with the exception of Our Party candidate Renato Usatii, appeared in at least one news story about their electoral platforms at these stations.
Prime TV offered equal access to all electoral candidates, presenting them in several news stories about their electoral objectives, mainly in neutral light. The political parties mentioned/cited in materials were presented neutrally in most cases, except for Shor Party, which also had 5 appearances in positive light.
Publika TV informed about the electoral promises of most of the electoral competitors, except for Tudor Deliu, the PLDM candidate, whose activities were not covered. Most of the relevant materials presented the electoral candidates in neutral light, as well as the representatives of the political parties and public institutions.
Jurnal TV treated the competitors equally in news, informing about everyone’s electoral meetings/promises, the tone of coverage being in most cases neutral. Igor Dodon had 4 appearances in negative light, especially in programs. Political parties were presented mostly neutrally, with the exception of Pro Moldova and PSRM, which were presented in negative light once each.
Pro TV Chisinau informed about the electoral objectives of the majority of candidates, with the exception of Igor Dodon and Violeta Ivanov, the Shor Party candidate, and the news were mainly based on statements from electoral debates. The tone of presentation for most of the electoral competitors was neutral, except for Igor Dodon, who also had 2 appearances in negative light. Most of the parties concerned were presented neutrally, as well as public institutions.
TV8 covered the electoral campaign mostly in programs with direct or indirect electoral tangency and in debates. The station did not inform in the news about the candidates’ electoral objectives, with the exception of Maia Sandu of PAS, Dorin Chirtoaca of BE Unirea, and Octavian Ticu of PUN, who were the protagonists of news stories based on their statements during the debates. The other candidates were featured in news other than the ones about the campaign. Most of the time, the tone of presentation of the electoral candidates was neutral. Igor Dodon had two appearances in negative light in programs. Political parties and public institutions were presented neutrally.
Televiziunea Centrală provided relatively equal access to electoral candidates in newscasts. Igor Dodon had the most appearances/mentions, and Violeta Ivanov had the most airtime for direct speech. The station informed about the campaign activities of most of the candidates, except for Octavian Ticu and Tudor Deliu. Most of the electoral candidates were presented neutrally, except for Violeta Ivanov, who was presented positively 4 times and neutrally 4 times. Violeta Ivanov was also favored by the positive appearances of Shor Party (12 times), while other parties were presented neutrally.

By monitoring media outlets, the IJC aims to inform the public about the behavior of the media during the electoral campaign and the access of electoral competitors to the media, but also to notify regulators about trends that could affect media performance or compromise their ability to provide the public with truthful, unbiased, and pluralistic information.
The IJC recommends the Broadcasting Council to use monitoring reports in order to take note of the facts and to assess whether the monitored stations have complied with the right to full, objective, and truthful information.
A total of ten television stations were monitored: Moldova 1, Prime TV, Publika TV, Jurnal TV, NTV Moldova, Primul în Moldova, Accent TV, Pro TV, TV8, and Televiziunea Centrală. The stations were selected according to the following criteria: audience/impact (national, regional), type of media (broadcasting), form of ownership (public, private), language of broadcasting (Romanian, Russian).
This report has been produced by the Independent Journalism Center as part of the project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M), implemented by Internews in Moldova with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UK. The opinions expressed belong to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders.