TV Găgăuzia Channel Fined for Admitting Personal Accusations and Discrimination against the Journalist Mihail Sirkeli

The Broadcasting Council (BC) sanctioned TV Găgăuzia regional public channel with two fines totaling 11000 lei for personal accusations and discrimination against the journalist Mihail Sirkeli, as well as for using bad practice by distorting the journalist’s message. The decision was made at the meeting of May 19, according to a BC press release.

In the “Special Report” informative program (original title: “Специальный репортаж”) of April 7, 2023, several guests analyzed the statements made by Mihail Sirkeli, the journalist of the portal, previously made public during the “Cutia Neagră” show on TV8 and referring to the competences of the Gagauz region in the sphere of information space regulation and security, as well as the elections.

According to the source, Dumitru Constantinov, President of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia, accused and insulted the journalist, including for not having expressed his opinion about the illegalities allegedly committed by the state institutions, without specifying what exactly these statements were about. Besides, Dumitru Constantinov’s statements about the war in Ukraine had no factual support. According to him, the main culprits of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine were the West, France, and Germany, who have never intended to settle the conflict peacefully. The show continued with the statements by Stepan Piron, President of the Independent Journalism Center in Gagauzia, who affirmed that Mihail Sirkeli was not a patriot, did not have an appropriate education, and was ignorant of the history of his own nation.

The BC monitoring report stated that Mihail Sirkeli’s statements made at the TV8 show were neutral, did not include any accusations, and did not refer to the necessity to limit the region’s powers, whereas the protagonists’ comments distorted his message, and their rhetoric was based on personal accusations. Therefore, a fine of 6000 lei was applied for the repeated breach of the provision of the Code of Audiovisual Media Services (CAMS), according to which media providers shall offer correct information about a fact or an event, and information shall be verified and presented impartially and conscientiously. For the repeated breach of the provision on avoiding any form of discrimination, TV Găgăuzia was fined another 5000 lei.

Aneta Gonța, the BC Vice-President, regards this case as media lynching, as elements of discrimination, offense, harassment, and even threats could be found in the broadcast material. “It is regrettable that a person who holds the post of the President of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia uses such false information as deepfake, which are not verified by the reporter at all,” she specified.

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