RTR Moldova Fined 13 000 Lei for Misinformation Regarding the Prohibition of Celebrating the Victory Day

The Broadcasting Council (BC) fined RTR Moldova 13 000 lei for breaching the rules of correct information in “Novoe Utro!” (“A New Morning!” in Russian), a morning entertainment program dated April 20. During the broadcast, the moderator stated that the government would try to prohibit celebrating the Victory Day. The monitoring took place upon request of Larisa Turea, BC member who suggested checking several TV channels in terms of covering the issues “in the context of promulgation of the law on prohibiting the signs associated with the Russian Federation’s military aggression in the sovereign state of Ukraine in the Republic of Moldova on April 19.”

Initially, the BC intended to monitor 11 TV channels, including the public one, Moldova 1, and 10 private channels with the highest ratings according to the latest audience assessment data. In total, the authority managed to monitor six media institutions (Moldova 1, Prime, Publika TV, N4, TV6, and RTR Moldova). The BC representatives specified that the next five TV channels would be examined for the next meeting. The monitoring included prime time broadcasts of April 19-21. In addition to Larisa Turea’s request, the BC was also notified about the RTR Moldova broadcast by the Independent Journalism Center and the WatchDog Community organization.

The monitoring results demonstrate that such TV channels as Moldova 1, Prime, Publika TV, N4, and TV6 did not commit any breaches when presenting the issues related to the enacted law on the prohibition of the ribbon of Saint George and V and Z signs. As to RTR Moldova, “Novoe Utro!” moderators expressed their views on prohibiting the symbols of “Russian military aggression in Ukraine, misleading the public by an affirmation: ‘Meanwhile, in Moldova, there is a resonance about the authorities’ attempts to prohibit one of our main holidays, at least my holidays for sure, the Victory Day. (…) For instance, residents of Transnistria and their leaders don’t seem to care about these prohibitions. (…) The leader of the Tiraspol administration has stated that the Transnistrians will proudly fasten the ribbons of Saint George on their chests and are ready to accept anyone who is not allowed to commemorate their grandfathers who won the war in their own homeland…’”

“By expressing these statements, Dmitrii Spivakov as the show host failed to provide correct information of media service consumers, and the information was not presented conscientiously enough,” Victoria Stetcaia, the head of the Radio Monitoring Department, stated. She added that the alleged facts could be balanced against the statements made by Maia Sandu, President of the Republic of Moldova, during a press briefing that banning the symbols of this war on our country did not threaten to destroy our historical memory, and people would still be allowed to commemorate the heroes of World War II. It should also be emphasized that the president pointed out that “no one forbids celebrating the 9th of May.”

The RTR Moldova representatives informed the BC that, in all the newscasts for the monitored period, the materials about the prohibition of displaying the above symbols were presented “in all aspects.” “RTR Moldova TV channel respects the prohibitions stipulated by the legislation of the Republic of Moldova and does not provoke any conflicts in society, presenting news from a factual point of view. As to “Novoe Utro!” broadcast on April 20, 2022, at 7:00, we would like to draw the BC’s attention to the fact that this program is not informative or analytical, it is entertaining,” the channel replies. The channel also states that the show is not its own product; it is purchased from TV Content Company. “Taking the situation into account, TV-Comunicații Grup [owned by RTR Moldova – author’s note] management warned TV Content SRL and the show host about the inadmissibility of the presented content, and the contractual relations will be terminated if such situations repeat,” the letter from RTR Moldova also states.

TV Content Company mentions that the presenter “had no intention to provide any false information in order to mislead the public,” and “the program did not include any statements saying that celebrating the 9th of May was forbidden in the Republic of Moldova.” “He regards the prohibition of the ribbon of Saint George as a painful fact for him, and the human factor played an important role in this situation: the TV show host could not keep his emotions, but promised it would not happen again,” the company’s statement also says.

Aneta Gonta, BC Vice President remarked that the legal provisions on correct information did not refer to information and analytical programs only: “It does not mean that we should not inform correctly or rely on facts in an entertaining program. A program may be an entertaining one, but it actually misleads the public.”

“We have stated a flagrant violation of several points of Art. 13. False information is used, and public opinion is manipulated, which is actually an attempt to divide society,” Larisa Turea said, pleading for the maximum sanction for the supplier, a fine of 15 000 lei, as the breach was repeatedly committed by the channel.

The channel was fined 13 000 lei with the vote of four BC members out of six present at the meeting.

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