TV stations Primul în Moldova and Familia lose their licenses

The Broadcasting Council (BC) decided not to extend the broadcasting licenses of TV stations Primul în Moldova and Familia, following several violations, including their programming concepts. The decision was made by the majority of the votes of the BC members at the meeting of October 13, according to a press release of the BC. 

On Friday, the BC analyzed the application of SC Telesistem TV, the owner of Primul în Moldova, requesting the extension of the broadcasting license. The BC decided to dismiss the application, motivating the decision by the fact that the provider did not comply with its own general concept – one of the criteria for extending the validity of the license, according to the Code of Audiovisual Media Services (CAMS).  

Moreover, according to a monitoring control carried out by the BC in September, the main informative programs and shows of Primul în Moldova are currently in the programming of ITV station. It was fined 5,000 MDL, at the same meeting of the BC, for not respecting the programming concept approved in August 2023, the BC communicated in another press release

As for the founder of Familia, Real Radio, in the period 2022-2023 it was sanctioned with ten fines amounting to 157,000 MDL for violating the provisions related to the production of local programs, with another fine of 7,000 MDL for non-compliance with the general concept of the media service and with two public warnings, including for non-compliance with the provisions regarding cultural responsibilities. 

The BC member Ruslan Mihalevschi said there are suspicions of anticompetitive practices and the risk of a dominant situation in the formation of public opinion, referring to seven television media services that, according to several press investigations, allegedly belong and/or are affiliated to the former chairman of the Democratic Party Vlad Plahotniuc. Mihalevschi invoked certain circumstances regarding changes in associates and administrators of media services. Thus, Elena Cudinova-Ghilescu, associate and sole beneficiary of Real Radio, said in a letter addressed to the BC that she did not hold the position of administrator of Familia station, but, according to the Public Services Agency, she was administrator and sole associate of the station between September 19 and 27, 2023. 

“According to the provisions of the CAMS, the broadcasting license is withdrawn if the provider presents false information to the BC, and Elena Cudinova-Ghilescu operated with such information when she declared that she was not an administrator of Real Radio SRL. In addition, the sources of funding of this media service are not sufficiently substantiated, the expenses foreseen for the production of local programs exceeding the budget for the entire previous year, according to the annual activity report presented by the provider. Licensing in this case encourages media concentration and does not ensure audiovisual pluralism,” said Ruslan Mihalevschi. 

The BC President Liliana Vițu reminded of the sanctions to Familia station for the lack of local content, underlining that the situation could have been rectified in nine years of activity. “There are reasonable suspicions about the ultimate beneficiaries, as well as about the motivation to develop a television station – it aims to acquire programs, but not to produce them, although the intention of a TV station is to have its own programs better than other stations,” added Liliana Vițu. 

At the meeting, the representative of the station said that the administrator is in the process of identifying solutions for the purchase and production of local audiovisual programs. 

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