Teleradio asks critical NGOs for explanations

The national broadcaster Teleradio-Moldova (TRM) is seeking explanations from a number of nongovernmental organizations which have drafted a declaration recently to warn that the national broadcaster is endangered by censorship and political control.
Info-Prim Neo, 17 June 2009, 19:15

2009-06-17/13:38/ Polarization among broadcasters deepened in May, report

Chisinau (IPN) The national television Moldova 1 and the private channels NIT, N4, Prime, and EuTV have continued to cover political actors in a biased way for a second month after the April 6 elections. This is one of the conclusions of the monitoring report of the newscasts on nine television stations released by the Association of Electronic Press APEL on Wednesday, Info-Prim Neo reports.

Covering a period from May 1 to 31, the report found that the most frequent violations occurring at the monitored channels concern the failure to properly ensure sociopolitical pluralism and balance, principles guaranteed by the Broadcasting Code.

“In the reporting period, the political actors that enjoyed the most coverage in a favorable context were the representatives of the government: Vladimir Voronin, the acting president of Moldova, and Zinaida Greceanyi, the prime minister of the country. In a negative context, the most frequent political a ctors in newscasts were the representatives of the opposition: the vice president of the Liberal Party Dorin Chirtoaca, the leader of the Democratic Liberal Party Vlad Filat, and the AMN leader Serafim Urecheanu”,Vasile Stati, APEL expert, told a news conference.

“The lack of balance between political actors in broadcasts is more pronounced in the post-election period than before the polls. Four channels – Moldova 1, N4, NIT and EuTV – have openly showed their support to the ruling party, the PCRM, and to the representatives of this party”, said Victor Moraru, also an expert with APEL.

According to Moraru, the same broadcasters place in negative contexts and disfavor the parliamentary parties from the opposition, some extra-parliamentary parties and their leaders. “Other channels, like ProTV, TV7 and TVC21, have continued, in most cases, to treat the political actors in conformity with the Broadcasting Code”, Mora ru added.

The report suggests the process of polarization among the broadcasters has deepened in May, while some of them have showed unwillingness or incapacity to reform in order to provide unbiased information and treat issues of public interest in an impartial manner.

“In the run up to the early elections we expect some television channels to preserve their editorial policies, since the Broadcasting Coordination Council has been unable to conduct sustainable monitoring”, said Vasile Stati.

In a recent letter to a number of media organizations, including APEL, the national broadcaster Teleradio-Moldova challenged the results of the reports monitoring its activity in the electoral and post-electoral period.

“We try to answer all their questions every time but some of their objectives are simply ridiculous”, said Stati.

“They'd better not ignore the findings of the monitoring reports, because the y are useful for any TV station. Televisions in the west order such monitoring reports, but here they are rejected”, argued Victor Moraru.

The project “Monitoring the presence of political/electoral actors on the main television channels in the pre-electoral, electoral and post-electoral period for the 2009 parliamentary elections” is financed by the European Commission's Delegation in Moldova under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, and is conducted in the framework of the Civic Coalition for Free and Fair Elections – Coalition 2009.

2009-06-17/09:34/ Chisinau (IPN) According to TRM, the statement of the 11 NGOs deserves attention only to the extent to which they generate questions which Teleradio-Moldova has repeatedly asked.

In a letter released on Wednesday, the TRM leadership is challenging the capacity of the 11 NGOs to speak for the entire society. “In the spirit of the democratic values you should make such a mandate, which you have abusively attributed to yourselves, publicly known”, the letter reads.

The TRM insists on seeing the list of those who monitored the activity of the public broadcaster during the election campaign and whose opinions led to criticism of Teleradio. “There's not a si ngle specialist in the area of broadcasting among them, except for APEL, but they, too, are former members of our company's leadership or owners of various public and private media institutions, and therefore their opinions cannot be considered unbiased, as there is room for conflicts of interest”, it was said.

The recommendation for the TRM to organize public debates with electoral competitors is regarded by the leadership of the broadcaster as a “means to persuade the foreign donors to continue providing plentiful financing to the NGOs, which represent only narrow groups of persons, financially interested in winning monitoring projects”.

The joint declaration stating that the public broadcaster is in danger because of censorship and political control has been launched recently by the Electronic Press Association (APEL), the Independent Journalism Center, the Independent Press Association, IDIS Viitorul, the Investigative Journalism Ce nter, the Acces-Info Center, the League for the Defense of Human Rights, the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections 2009, the Journalists Union of Moldova, the Promo-LEX Association and Business Consulting Institute.

The declaration demanded that Teleradio-Moldova “should forsake its practice of interfering and exerting control on journalistic activity, infringements contradicting both domestic and European legal standards”.