During a briefing on November 13, the executive director of Promo-Lex, Ion Manole, stated that the public broadcasting company Teleradio-Moldova (TRM) had violated the provisions of the partnership agreement signed with the non-governmental association in 2016. According to him, “for the first time ever,” in relation to the debate on November 12, Promo-Lex was not informed by responsible people about the “unilateral change of the mutually agreed scenario for debates organized by Teleradio-Moldova.”
In particular, the Promo-Lex representative mentioned that “the candidates’ supporters were allowed to be present at the debate, although it had been agreed that, for reasons of public health security, the presence of viewers in the studio would be given up.”
Manole also pointed out that Moldova 1, contrary to its own editorial policy – according to which, in the absence of a candidate, the time reserved is not recovered – “admitted the use of the entire program in favor of a single candidate.” “According to the public announcement of the station, it intended to grant 30 minutes for each candidate. In reality, however, the debate lasted more than 60 minutes,” he added. Manole also objected to the fact that the time of the candidate’s responses to experts’ questions was extended from 12 to 20 minutes.
“These facts, eventually, could be interpreted as intentions to favor an electoral competitor, given that a series of concerted actions were found between the electoral competitor and the management of the public television station Moldova 1. The way in which the debate was organized on the evening of November 12 is contrary to the good practices of electoral debates organized by a public television station,” Ion Manole said.
In reaction to the Promo-Lex statement, Ecaterina Stratan, the company’s deputy general director responsible for television, described the association’s statements as “unfounded assumptions, and the accusations of alleged concerted actions – downright hallucinatory and totally out of place.” “Even the three so-called inaccuracies are not based on a logical argument in accordance with the law,” said Ecaterina Stratan, according to a press release sent to Media-Azi.
Stratan also said that before the second round of the presidential elections Moldova 1 intended to organize electoral debates with both candidates, having sent invitations to the two electoral teams. “We wanted a program in a special format, a large-scale confrontation of ideas and electoral platforms on the set of debates, so that citizens could get direct knowledge about their candidates’ intentions, see the difference, and give an informed vote. Unfortunately, the PAS candidate did not accept the invitation, and this decision, according to the law, must not affect the airtime allocated to the counter-candidate who appeared on the program,” the head of Moldova 1 said.
Regarding the presence of the public in the studio, TRM representatives claim that it is not a violation, and both electoral candidates were informed that they could come to debates with up to 20 supporters. “After such extensive experience in organizing debates, Promo-Lex representatives should know that the time allotted to a candidate is timed, and the total duration of the program includes the interventions of the host and experts, including the Promo-Lex expert. So, mathematically speaking, if Maia Sandu appeared at the debates, the program would be about an hour longer, as she would be given the same number of minutes,” added Ecaterina Stratan.