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The Right to Broadcast Advertising Suspended by the BCC for Several TV Stations that Committed Serious Infringements When Covering the Election Campaign

25 November 2016
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The Broadcasting Coordinating Council (BCC) has toughened the sanctions against the broadcasters that continued to infringe the broadcasting legislation and the deontological and journalistic rules, when covering the election campaign. At BCC’s meeting held on Friday, 25th of November, four TV stations were deprived of the right to broadcast advertising for three days (72 hours), and other were fined the maximum amount of the financial penalty. The BCC members grounded their decisions on the results of the third monitoring report on 14 TV stations conducted during the period 31st of October – 13th of November 2016.

The broadcasting regulatory authority decided to suspend the right to broadcast advertising during three days to the following TV stations - "Publika TV", "Accent TV", "NTV Moldova" and "Jurnal TV". Two other stations - "Prime TV "and" Ren Moldova" were penalised the maximal fine of 5,400 lei; while TV7 channel was fined the minimal financial penalty.

According to BCC report, PRO TV and Moldova 1 TV stations had a balanced and impartial conduct in the recent election campaign.
The BCC members expressed divided opinions concerning "Prime TV". This TV station had broadcast the story about the alleged 30 thousand Syrian refugees, which were seemingly expected to be brought to Moldova, if the candidate Maia Sandu was elected as President. According to the BCC member Olga Gututui, for such a media forgery "Prime TV" should also have been penalised with the temporary suspension of the right to broadcast advertising. “What happened is very serious, but there was no disclaimer of that information; media forgeries incite hatred in the society”, Olga Gututui pointed out.

Another BCC member, Dragos Vicol, also expressed the opinion that the report under consideration “caused quite a stir” in the society” and that “the information was not accurate”, but he still opted for a milder penalty for this TV station, namely, the maximum fine, grounding his option on the fact that “apart from this unfortunate transgression, “Prime” has not committed any other transgressions”.

The duration of the period for suspending the advertising was another topic of debates among the BCC members. Dragos Vicol suggested a period of 72 hours, and Nicolae Damaschin - 24 hours, stating that “the BCC is not an authority with a whip in its hand”. BCC chairman, Dinu Ciocan, also pleaded for a longer period. Finally, the BCC members unanimously voted for the term of 72 hours.

 A part of BCC members tried to see the bright side of the situation, while others opted for tougher penalties.

“Certain TV stations have not shown any partisanship, what means that it can be done. In terms of punishment, I think that BCC should not be a policeman, but a coordinator”, Iurie Colesnic emphasised.

“I put great efforts to see the glass half full, but I failed. I support the idea of ​​suspending the advertising at those TV stations that misinformed, not only manipulated”, the BCC member Mariana Onceanu-Hadârcă said. In her opinion, the TV stations that violated Article 6, point 1 of the Broadcasting Code, when disseminating the messages of the group of priests led by the Bishop Marchel of Bălți and Florești, are also punishable for incitement to hatred. Mariana Onceanu-Hadârcă proposed to apply distinct penalties for this infringement to the respective TV stations.

Dinu Ciocan still stated that the broadcasters that violated this article of the Code had already been sanctioned and that there was no need for supplementary sanctions.

To be noted that two media organizations - the Independent Journalism Centre and the Association of Independent Press - have previously claimed the resignation of the Chairman of the Broadcasting Coordinating Council, Dinu Ciocan, and of BCC members who have not properly applied the legislation in relation with the broadcasters who had breached the provisions of the Broadcasting Code during the election campaign, thus undermining the citizen's right to objective information. The CEOs of the two media organizations, Nadine Gogu and Petru Macovei, pointed out that, at the previous meeting held on 11th of November, the penalties were not applied gradually, as required by the Broadcasting Code.