BCC penalizes Moldova 1 for not observing elections coverage by-law

The Broadcasting Coordinating Council (BCC) has penalized the public TV channel Moldova 1 for not observing the by-law on covering elections by media, adopted by the Central Election Commission.
Info-Prim Neo, 4 March 2009, 19:02

2009-03-04/14:45/ Chisinau (IPN) In its sitting on Wednesday, February 4, all the council members voted for penalizing Moldova 1 for presenting the BCC a series of video recordings 5 days later than due. Art. 70 of the CEC's by-law provides for 24 hours to execute such a request, Info-Prim Neo reports.

Asked for explanations, first deputy director of Moldova 1, Mihai Scoarta, has said: "I don't know exactly when this letter arrived, all I know is that yesterday (Tuesday - e.n.) all the disks were submitted. So, I am not aware about this term of 24 hours." The BCC intended to watch the recordings to see the exactitude of a complaint from the Communists Party (PCRM) that Moldova 1 would air more reports about Moldova Noastra Alliance (AMN), than about the PCRM. Under the Broadcasting Code, the BCC can apply five types of punishments on broadcasters, of which the mildest is the public warning. This was applied on the public broadcaster.

The private station EU TV was also publicly warned for breeching art. 32 of the Regulation, which provides that "electioneering on radio and TV stations is done against payment (...)" The BCC members qualified as electioneering two materials aired in February by this station, in which the interviewees expressed their arguments why they became or why they would vote for Cristian-Democrats in the upcoming elections.

The complained to the BCC about materials broadcast by NIT, N4 and Omega in which president Vladimir Voronin was handing out awards in the end of an international contest "The President's Chess Cup", held in mid-February. Under art. 18 of the by-law, "the broadcasters, (...), may not air materials about electoral competitors attending sport events." "Is chess a sport?" asked himself BCC member Corneliu Mihalache. After debates in which some BCC members were asking if the chess tournaments can be seen as sport events and whether President Voronin is an electoral competitor, only 2 BCC members of 9 voted to sanction the stations mentioned above. President Voronin is the first on the PCRM's list of candidates for the parliament.

The present election race is not covered by two TV stations enjoying national coverage: 2 Plus and Prime. When asked by Info-Prim Neo's reporter to comment whether there is a case of unjust usage of frequencies here, since the terrestrial frequencies are national assets, BCC chairman Gheorghe Gorincioi has said he does not interfere into the editorial policy of broadcasters. Art. 13 of the Broadcasting Code provides that "the access of the program consumer to events of major interest (...) is guaranteed under the law."