Recently, the TV channels Primul in Moldova and NTV Moldova broadcast either simultaneously or at different times the same news bulletins, presented by the same moderators. A similar situation can be seen on Publika TV and Prime TV. The channels’ representatives explain this by a reduction in incomes. On the other hand, media experts believe that such practices “should be stopped”, and the BC says it has started monitoring several TV channels.
On May 31, some journalists of the Primul in Moldova channel reported on social media that the last news bulletin would be broadcast on that day. “Time to say goodbye. This is the saddest news of the many we have written during three years of activity at Primul in Moldova (…) Today, at 09:00 p.m., is our last news bulletin…”, wrote Denis Borșevici. His colleague, Daria Bucatari, posted on her page a video sequence in which she appears as a TV reporter, adding in the post that “unfortunately, [the news, n.a.] will no longer appear on the screen”. In addition, on both the official TV website and social media pages, the last news bulletin is dated May 31.
According to the observations of Media Azi reporters, the news broadcast later on Primul in Moldova is similar to that of NTV Moldova and is presented by the same moderators. A recent example would be the Russian-language bulletin of June 8, 09:00 p.m. At the same time, although each channel keeps its own logo, the microphone in the hands of the reporters is that of NTV Moldova in both cases.
According to the 2022 report, available on the website of the Broadcasting Council (BC), the final beneficiaries of the TV channel Primul in Moldova are two citizens of the Russian Federation – Natalia Ermilova and Samvel Grigorean. The same report indicates that NTV Moldova is owned by Corneliu Furculita, a Member of Parliament. On the other hand, in a recent interview for Newsmaker.md, the head of BC, Liliana Vitu, said that the MP has rewritten the assets he owns in the name of his wife, Ludmila Furculita, including NTV Moldova.
CLONED NEWS ON 2 OTHER TV CHANNELS
Previously, a similar situation was observed at Prime TV and Publika TV. “Optimization at Plahotniuc’s media holding: Publika TV and Prime TV give the same news bulletin. (…) In fact, even before they were pretty much the same news, but they differed a bit, there were different presenters”, remarked Petru Macovei, executive director of the Independent Press Association, in mid-May. According to Media Azi, at least on June 8, both TV channels broadcast similar news presented by the same person – journalist Alex Luca from Prime TV.
Both TV channels are still owned by former Democratic leader Vladimir Plahotniuc and managed by General Media Group Corp (GMG). According to media reports, the owner of the media holding company is not currently in the country, having handed over power in the summer of 2019.
IMPACT OF THE CRISIS ON THE ADVERTISING MARKET
Asked about the reasons for these decisions, the administrator of Primul in Moldova, Stanislav Vijga, told Media Azi that the TV channel’s activity has been endangered by the regional crisis on the advertising market and that the channel is restructuring in order to increase the volume of its own products. “There is the notion of optimising expenditure. At a time when a complicated situation has arisen on the advertising market, the company Telesistem, which holds the broadcasting license for Primul in Moldova, is experiencing financial difficulties in meeting obligations to external partners. Therefore, we are going through a restructuring phase and the current situation on air is temporary. We right now want to increase our own content, as required by legislation. The Primul in Moldova is a national media service provider and must create no less than eight hours of own content per day. We are now gathering forces, reviewing the expenses and hope for a positive reaction from the public when we see the results,” said Stanislav Vijga.
At the first stage, the media manager says the TV channel will focus on talk shows. In fact, the channel recently launched the show “TEMA”, moderated by political scientist Corneliu Ciurea.
The GMG representatives also invoked as a reason the reduction in advertising. “Due to the crisis in the regional advertising market and the decision of some companies to stop placing advertising in news programmes, Publika TV has reduced the volume of programmes in first broadcast and takes over news programmes from other TV channels. For 12 years now, Publika TV has been one of the few channels in Moldova that produces and broadcasts local programmes according to the quotas set by law,” stated Ana Butnariuc, editor-chief of General Media Group, to Media Azi.
EXPERT: “SUCH PRACTICES SHOULD BE STOPPED”
The Executive Director of the Electronic Press Association (APEL), Ion Bunduchi, notes that in the Republic of Moldova “it has become natural for bad practices to become entrenched in various fields, including journalism”, exemplifying situations when some media service providers, with the approval of the BC, obtain licenses for both TV and radio and broadcast the televised media service on radio. “In the whole good world this is an anomaly. Any licence must broaden audiovisual pluralism, for the benefit and enjoyment of the citizen. But it is not to be. (…) Economic logic is understandable, not the rigours of the law; not the common sense of the provider. This kind of anaphoric practice is beginning to disappear, albeit with great difficulty, but it must disappear,” believes Ion Bunduchi.
“It would seem that the problem is one of journalistic ethics, which relies mainly on the good manners and common sense of the professionals in the profession. In my opinion, however, we are dealing with a deviation from some legal rigours. I’m not a lawyer, but you don’t have to be a lawyer to understand some of the provisions of the law,” he also says.
The expert believes that the primary aim of audiovisual legislation is to broaden real pluralism in broadcasting. “Pluralism, whether internal or external, implies diversity. And diversity is comprehensive – diversity of media services addressed to all categories of beneficiaries; of journalistic genres and themes; of authors, including with reference to gender balance; of protagonists, who may have different social and professional status; of presenters/moderators, who may also be women or men of all ages, depending on what kind of audiovisual programmes they present/moderate; geographical diversity and so on. Any attempt, wittingly or unwittingly, to restrict diversity/pluralism, in my view, goes against both the grain and the spirit of the law. And, surely, such practices should be curbed for the reason that each of us, as beneficiaries of radio or television products, wants diversity”, concludes Ion Bunduchi.
PROBLEM IN THE SIGHTS OF BC
In this context, the Chairperson of the BC, Liliana Vitu, told Media Azi that the authority initiated a follow-up on the subject last week, after the self-reporting of the Vice-Chairperson of the Council, Aneta Gonta. Prime TV, Publika TV, Canal 2 and Canal 3 are concerned. “And at today’s meeting [June 10], on my proposal, the members voted and I initiated the same control of compliance with the concept through the structure approved by the BC at NTV Moldova, Exclusiv TV, Accent TV and Primul in Moldova. Precisely because we want to see if their concept is respected or not,” noted Liliana Vitu.