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TRM Supervisory Board Holds a Heated Meeting after IJC’s Report on Monitoring Moldova 1

07 May 2020
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Tuesday, May 6, the Independent Journalism Center’s report on monitoring Moldova 1 public channel caused a red-hot debate in the Supervisory Board of Teleradio-Moldova (TRM). TRM management called IJC’s research “biased” and claimed to have conducted a parallel study that allegedly produced “diametrically opposite” data. IJC denies the accusations, claiming that “every conclusion in the report is substantiated”.

At the meeting, Ecaterina Stratan, TRM’s Deputy General Manager in charge of Moldova 1, said she disagreed with certain points in IJC’s report: “We have found that the factual data in this report are largely wrong and inconsistent with reality”. She claimed, inter alia, that remarks concerning lack of a second source only referred to short news and not the controversial piece. At the same time, the channel’s manager said that the monitoring period coincided with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is why authorities appeared on screen more often, since the channel focused on infection-related news.

Ecaterina Stratan added that the opposition had had, contrarily to IJC’s monitoring conclusions, a proportional onscreen presence, given the exceptional situation. “I believe that most political figures can be found [in Mesager, ed. note]. It’s true, and according to our monitoring, authorities appeared in Mesager more often, since the pandemic had started and we needed those special editions for the authorities to provide rules and make statements every single day”, Stratan mentioned.

“IJC’s report is biased”

After IJC’s report was published TRM management asked expert Anatol Bârsa, who is also the company’s monitoring editor, to produce a parallel report. Stratan commented: “We believe that IJC’s report is biased and aims at denigrating Moldova 1 journalists. Therefore, we will publish our own parallel report, and I invite IJC to prove and to see who is right and who manipulates public opinion. I would like a public debate (...) so we can also provide strong arguments and not be given a bad name like that and be spit in the face whenever they like it”.

Daniela Mițelea, Supervisory Board member, said she would like to see the Audiovisual Council’s reaction to the situation before providing her opinion on it. “However, I’m waiting for a report from AC. It is, in fact, their responsibility, as well, to make sure everything is right”, Mițelea pointed out.

Violeta Cojocaru, Council President, proposed the meeting to vote on the general recommendations mentioned in the report and hold a roundtable involving the report authors and TRM management. “We have two polar studies. All we can do is provide general recommendations which, as I am sincerely convinced, the company meets, but I will reiterate them anyway: avoid manipulation techniques, promote audiovisual pluralism, and disseminate information in a socially responsible way”, Cojocaru specified.

Her colleague, Larisa Călugăru, was much more categorical, asking for the resignation of Director Olga Bordeianu for several reasons, including “managerial and professional incompetence at TRM. Our ratings are our mirror”. Her request was recorded and will be debated during one of the following meetings.

“I have not heard anything to support these accusations”

IJC CEO, Nadine Gogu, believes TRM management’s accusations against the Center “are grave and based rather on emotions than on facts. Anyway, I have not heard anything to support these accusations so far”.

“It should be specified that IJC’s report presents a thorough analysis of news bulletins broadcast by Moldova 1 from the viewpoint of compliance with legal provisions and deontological standards. Each conclusion given in the report is substantiated, while the data merely confirm the initial presumption that the public TV channel is closer to the authorities than to the actual public. Since Moldova 1 management cannot provide evidence in support of its defamation accusations, we expect it to openly apologize for its unjustified statements”, Nadine Gogu declared.
Victor Gotișan, author of the monitoring report, says that the quantitative method was essential, but not decisive in the research. “Thus, Moldova 1 should at least admit to having massively favored the central authorities, regardless of the monitoring period context (Covid-19 pandemic onset). Meanwhile, heavy coverage of the central authorities does not necessarily mean “public interest” and is not an essential element of a public TV channel”, Gotișan said.
 
“I will not state my opinion on the political component for the moment, for the simple reason that I would like to see the internal report done by the public channel. It’s very important for me to understand the way certain relevant indicators or aspects have been analyzed and summed up. (...) Moreover, the way news about political parties has been placed in the bulletins is quite suggestive: PSRM’s “initiatives” were covered mainly in the first part of the bulletin, while the opposition’s “initiatives” – in the second half of the bulletin”, added the researcher who, by the way, had been invited to the meeting of May 6 but announced he would not be able to participate.
Victor Gotișan encourages TRM management to discuss, “in an ethical manner, the conclusions of both reports, without resorting to serious accusations and personal remarks”, and says he is open for public debates on report findings and, particularly, research techniques used.

IJC’s monitoring report published in mid-April reveals that, on March 9 through 15, Moldova 1 largely adjusted its informational content to the government’s agenda, the central authorities being mentioned and cited in news most often. Another finding of the document was that President Dodon appeared in a positive context in almost all news, and the Party of Socialists was mainly favored, as compared to the opposing parties.

View full report HERE.