Orizont TV fined 75,000 MDL for advertising with masked content in favor of Ilan Shor

Orizont TV was sanctioned by the Broadcasting Council (BC) with 11 fines, totaling 75,000 MDL, for broadcasting commercial communications with masked content in newscasts. The targeted materials referred to the Guitar Festival in Orhei, protests against the closure of Merișor shops, and the concert of the performer Misha Marvin in OrheiLand. The decision was made at the BC meeting on September 8, according to a press release of the institution.

According to the BC, on July 31, 2023, Orizont TV broadcast a report called “Performer, composer, and musician Misha Marvin performed on Saturday in OrheiLand” in three main newscasts. The BC found that the name of the park was present in the title of the report, six times in footage, and was kept written on the screen during the report, and it spoke about OrheiLand more than about the actual topic.

In the report they said that every Saturday children were offered free ice cream at the initiative of Ilan Shor. Also, the BC found elements of advertising, as the report mentioned the year of the opening of the park, the number of visitors, the working hours, showed how ice cream is given with the banner “Free ice-cream” in the background, and the name of Ilan Shor appeared both at the beginning of the report and at the end. Therefore, according to the BC press release, the editorial content favorably presented the political actor Ilan Shor and falls under the notion of political advertising, but it was not marked as advertising and was not properly delimited, which contradicts the provisions of the law. The Code of Audiovisual Media Services obliges TV stations to clearly separate journalistic products from those made for advertising purposes.

Another report, about the protest of several supporters of the political bloc ȘOR, who were dissatisfied with the closure of social stores Merișor, presented masked commercial information regarding the number of those stores and the year when they were launched, and mentioned the person who initiated their creation. The report appeared on August 3 in three newscasts and included sequences with elements of Merișor store and footage from the inauguration of one such store, with ribbon cutting, the protesters’ opinions that they “save money in this store”, and the image of their founder, Ilan Shor. 

On August 7, 2023, the station reported that “a guitar festival was held in Orhei in memory of Iurie Sadovnic,” mentioning that the event was organized with the personal support of Ilan Shor.

BC Vice-President Aneta Gonta noted that all 3 reports contained manipulation techniques that “work very well when the same message is repeated several times”. “Although the TV station stated that it did not pursue the purpose of advertising the stores, it certainly pursued the purpose of advertising Ilan Shor by means of OrheiLand, Merișor and, recently, the Guitar Festival,” she said.

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