RTR Moldova Fined 17 000 Lei for Lack of Impartiality and Unfair Practices in Covering a Protest by the Sor Party

The Broadcasting Council (BC) examined the results of monitoring RTR Moldova channel following two notifications filed to the BC by Community, in which the petitioner informed the authority about the breach of legal provisions in two newscasts of September 7 and 8. The Monitoring Department stated that, in both programs, the broadcaster has breached the provisions of the Code of Audiovisual Media Services.

Thus, on September 7, in the 19.00 newscast, the channel broadcast a manipulative news item about the protests organized by the Sor Party and the PCRM. In the images appearing in the news items, picket signs with accusations against Maia Sandu and the PAS were shown without requesting the reaction of those concerned. From the letter sent to the BC by the RTR Moldova management, it is obvious that the channel did not even consider it logical to request such reactions.

On September 8, RTR Moldova was broadcasting another news item in the 19:00 newscast (in Russian), about Ilan Sor’s call to citizens to join the protest. The monitoring department stated that “the authors of the newscast used the sequences from the initial message by the leader of the Sor Party published on the YouTube platform, where the images in which a beggar, poor old people, and tumble-down houses appear, which not merely illustrate the politician’s words, but amplify their emotional impact and can suggest the idea that they are a result of the current governance.”

The BC member Ruslan Mihalevschi suggested that, in the text of the draft decision, it should be clearly stated that the footage with the beggar, the needy elderly people, and the dilapidated houses was absent from the initial message of the Sor Party or Ilan Sor personally, and was “added or included by this media service.”

In her turn, Ana Gonta,  the BC Vice President, drew attention to the fact that, in the letter, RTR Moldova administration was claiming that it was illogical to ask for the reaction of the person concerned every time. She considers that, in this case, “journalism is interpreted unclearly.” “In my opinion, as to the second topic, I would go much further and invoke the breach of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, because this is actually not a news item, but an incitement, a call to overthrowing the constitutional order. The reporter simply announces the day, time, place, and purpose of a protest organized by a political party very clearly. I guess this breach is quite serious,” Ana Gonta remarked.

Ruslan Mihalevschi also emphasized the fact that, in the monitored newscast, the principles of impartiality and fairness were breached, as citizens were informed exclusively “about the position of a party, which is far from correct.” He suggested fining the channel 17 000 lei. Orest Dabija, another BC member, suggested a larger fine of 19 500 lei, explaining that “this is a repeated breach and a news item of an aggressive nature.” Larisa Turea pleaded for a fine of 20 000 lei, given that, in her opinion, “it was an intentional disinformation.”

Finally, with a majority of votes, the BC members fined RTR Moldova channel 17 000 lei.

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