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IJC Report: Three of the ten TV stations keep massively favoring Igor Dodon

19 October 2020
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Three television stations out of the ten monitored by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) during the electoral campaign for the presidential election of November 1, 2020 continue massively favoring Igor Dodon, independent candidate supported by PSRM. On the other hand, these stations sporadically covered the activity of other competitors. These are some of the conclusions of the third monitoring report, for the period of October 7-14, 2020, launched by the IJC on Monday, October 19.

According to the report, the public television station Moldova 1 offered access to news to all electoral candidates who organized campaign activities, presenting them in most cases neutrally. Igor Dodon, independent candidate supported by PSRM, had the most appearances or mentions, being presented most of the time neutrally and twice positively, benefiting at the same time from four positive news stories regarding the activity of the Government.  

Primul în Moldova, NTV Moldova, and Accent TV usually used the same angles of approach, treating electoral candidates differently. Thus, the stations followed and widely covered the campaign activities of some candidates, presenting details from their electoral programs, while other candidates were either completely ignored or were protagonists of the news with negative connotations. Igor Dodon was massively favored by these stations, both by the high frequency of appearances and airtime allocated to direct speeches and by the positive tone. Also, the stations broadcast a total of 50 positive materials about the Government’s activity, which were favorable for Igor Dodon. The PAS candidate Maia Sandu was more often mentioned than cited by these stations, the tone of her presentation being often negative. The other competitors were presented sporadically and mostly neutrally.

Televiziunea Centrală provided more access to news to the Shor Party candidate Violeta Ivanov, whose campaign activities were covered daily and in positive light. The other candidates, with the exception of Tudor Deliu of PLDM, were present each in one news story that presented their electoral programs, and the tone of presentation was predominantly neutral.

Prime TV and Publika TV covered the campaign in newscasts and debates, giving access to the majority of electoral competitors, without obviously favoring or disfavoring any competitor or political party. The tone of the presentation of candidates, political parties, and public institutions was in most cases neutral. Igor Dodon was advantaged by the large number of materials and topic of appearances at both stations, and Violeta Ivanov was more advantaged by Prime TV. 

Jurnal TV was actively involved in covering the campaign, offering access to news to all electoral candidates, without obviously favoring or disfavoring any of them. The station treated the competitors equally in news, informing about the electoral meetings and promises of all candidates, the tone of presentation being in most cases neutral. Igor Dodon had five appearances in negative light, especially in programs.

Pro TV Chișinău had a balanced behavior, without showing obvious tendencies to favor or disfavor any electoral competitor. The station offered relatively equal access to all electoral candidates and presented them mainly in neutral light. Igor Dodon had three appearances in negative light.

TV8 allocated a lot of airtime to news and programs with direct and indirect electoral tangency. In most cases, the registered candidates, parties, and central public administration were presented neutrally. Igor Dodon had the most appearances or mentions in a negative context, especially during programs.

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 UKAID. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders.