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Prime TV Was Imposed a Fine Amounting to MDL 70,000 for Broadcasting a Militarist Speech of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin

05 April 2018
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The maximum penalty for Prime TV, worth MDL 70, 000, for violating the provisions of the Audiovisual Code, known as the ‘anti-propaganda law’. The members of the Audiovisual Coordination Council (ACC) fined the broadcaster at a meeting on 5 April on the basis of a notice submitted by WatchDog, a think-tank organisation which informed the Council that this broadcaster had broadcast a militarist speech of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, held in the Moscow Parliament.

The WatchDog Association submitted a notice to ACC on 12 March 2018, informing the council about the broadcast on 1 March on PrimeTV of the 2 hours feature, which started at 11:00 AM, called ”Ежегодное послание Президента РФ В. В. Путина Федеральному Собранию” [‘Annual Speech of the Russian Federation President, V.V. Putin to the Federal Assembly], relayed from the Russian TV Station ”Первый Канал”. The representatives of the association mentioned that according to Prime TV broadcast grid, another feature had to be broadcast at that time of the day.

When examining this complaint, the ACC members found that Prime TV had flagrantly violated Article 9(21) of the Audiovisual Code. In order
to ensure the informational security of the state, this paragraph provides that the broadcasters and services distributors may broadcast television and radio programmes with informative, analytical-informative, military, and political content only if produced in the EU Member States, the USA, Canada, as well as in the countries which have ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. The Russian Federation did not ratify this convention.

According to a press release broadcast by the ACC, Prime TV should have suspended the rebroadcasting of this program, ‘which conveyed messages related to Russia's supremacy in relation to other states, the development of non-ballistic strategic weapons against which the anti-missile defense system becomes redundant and, in response to foreign aggression, Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, etc.‘

We remind that Prime TV is owned by the leader of the Democratic Party, Vladimir Plahotniuc. In connection to this, the WatchDog community recently accused the ACC of allegedly ‘protecting Vlad Plahotniuc's TV station’ because, after informing the broadcasting regulator about the program broadcast, the issue had not been included on the agenda of the recent sessions of the authority. The ACC justified this delay by claiming to have waited for the position of the broadcaster to be expressed.