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Moldova 1 Channel Was Sanctioned with MDL 10,000, and Other TV Channels Monitored by the BC Received Public Warnings

31 October 2019
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During the meeting of 31 October, the Broadcasting Council (BC) sanctioned the public TV channel Moldova 1 with a fine of MDL 10,000 (about EUR 500) for violating the legislation while covering the election campaign, and the TV channels Moldova 2, Canal 2 and PRIME TV were publicly warned. The sanctions were applied following the examination of the BC monitoring report on media coverage of the election campaign during 10-20 October 2019.

The Report on Broadcaster Monitoring was heard during the meeting of 30 October, which had no legal effect due to the lack of quorum. Considering the situation, the BC Chair Dragos Vicol, postponed the examination of the report for Thursday, 31 October.

Thus, with five votes in favour and two against (given by the BC members Corneliu Mihalache and Olga Gututui), Moldova 1 public TV channel was sanctioned with MDL 10,000 for repeated violations of the Audiovisual Media Services Code on ‘ensuring impartiality, balance and promotion of the free formation of opinions by presenting the main points of view in opposition, during a public debate about certain issues’.

PRIME TV channel was publicly warned twice during the same meeting. In one case, according to the BC Monitoring Department, the television was sanctioned for violating the broadcaster’s obligation to inform ‘correctly about a fact or an event, and the information should be accurate and presented in an impartial way and in good faith’, during the ‘De Facto’ show moderated by Valeriu Frumusache.

In another case, PRIME TV and Canal 2 failed to ensure the right of access to audiovisual media services for persons with vision or hearing impairments, between 14 and 20 October.

Ana Butnariuc, the editor-in-chief of Prime TV, who was present at the meeting, stated that ‘De Facto’ is an authors’ and an analytical TV show and due to this, it ‘cannot be censored’. For these reasons, Butnariuc claims that the remark of Monitoring Department is an ‘alleged’ one.

As regards the failure to ensure the access to information for people with disabilities, the editor-in-chief justified the situation through the fact that the sign-language interpreter resigned from the respective channel in the middle of the election campaign and now the company is testing a new software to ensure the interpretation into the respective language.

The BC member, Corneliu Mihalache, was against sanctioning the PRIME TV channel for the violations found in case of ‘De Facto’ show, claiming that journalists have the right to strongly express their critical point of view about the governance. The BC member, Olga Guțuțui, mentioned that she voted against the Council’s actions as regards the monitoring of the channels during the election campaign, stressing that this approach is a ‘selective’ one.

The Broadcasting Council (BC) monitored six broadcasters – Moldova 1, Moldova 2, PRIME, Canal 2, and two radio stations – Radio Moldova and Radio Moldova Youth.