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12 May 2021
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Gheorghe Russu

Vice-director, The Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption

Parties-Phantoms, Parties - State Institutions, Parties - State Enterprises

Ion PREAŞCĂ

20 parties have registered in the current election campaign. Many people say it is a too big number for such a small country as Moldova. At the same time, much more parties could take part in the election campaign.

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Media NGOs concerned about fate of Pro TV channel

Media nongovernmental organizations express their concern about the decision not to extend the license of Pro TV Chisinau channel and to put the license up for contest taken by the Broadcasting Coordination Council.
Info-Prim Neo, 16 December 2008, 16:32

Chisinau (IPN) Media nongovernmental organizations express their concern about the decision not to extend the license of Pro TV Chisinau channel and to put the license up for contest taken by the Broadcasting Coordination Council (BCC). The position was expressed in a Statement of the Mass Media Organizations regarding the Refusal of the Broadcasting Coordination Council to Extend Pro TV Chisinau's License, quoted by Info-Prim Neo.

According to the document, initially, in the response to the application of Pro TV, the Council said that the television channel's application does not meet the conditions stipulated in article 24 of the Broadcasting Code because during the period of validity of the license, Pro TV has not respected all the stipulations of the broadcasting legislation and the terms of the broadcast license. But the four cases regarded as deviations from the legislation, identified during the five years, are single and irrelevant.

Afterward, at a news conference on December 12, the BCC president Gheorghe Gorincioi said that the broadcasting authority will not extend the license of Pro TV because under article 26 of the regulations concerning the procedure and conditions for issuing broadcast licenses and retransmission authorizations adopted by Parliament decision, only the broadcast licenses "obtained in accordance with the Broadcasting Code" can be prolonged. Evidently, the BCC resorts thus to a formal strategy as, according to article 24 of the Broadcasting Code (1), "the broadcast license is extended at the request of the broadcaster, if the broadcaster worked in accordance with the stipulations of the present code and fulfilled the conditions of the license during its period of validity."

The broadcasters' right to have the broadcast license extended guaranteed in the Broadcasting Code was cancelled by the Parliament Decision No. 433-XVI of 28.12.2006. On the one hand, the fact that a Parliament decision adopted by a majority vote modifies a stipulation of an organic law - the Broadcasting Code - runs counter to the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova. On the other hand, it infringes the European norms as the law is implemented discriminatorily towards the national broadcasters.

We consider that if the BCC had acted in accordance with the law and had taken into account the interests of the public and the rights of the broadcaster, the BCC would have approved the broadcaster's legal application to extend the license out of contest.

We have reasons to believe that the Council's actions form part of a campaign to intimidate the independent press and monitor the main mass media outlets orchestrated by the Moldovan authorities. This way, the people are deprived of alternative sources of information in the run-up to the election campaign. On this occasion, we remind that represent atives of the parliamentary group of PPCD for several times leveled groundless and unprecedented accusations at Pro TV, saying that the channel's activity is aimed at undermining the national interests of Moldova, with the held of the country's enemies from outside. On November 29, Deputy Speaker and president of PPCD Iurie Rosca threatened Pro TV openly that it would be closed.

The media NGO's concern is also fueled by the fact that in the absence of clear and transparent criteria for assessing the program services and for choosing applicants on the basis of which to issue radio frequencies and TV channels, a number of reputable and popular broadcasters such as Radio 103.5FM in Balti and TVR1 disappeared from the media market as a result of the contests held by the BBC; there were made arbitrary decisions that cannot be explained by the general public such as the decision not to grant frequencies to such respected radio and TV stations as Vocea B asarabiei, Pro FM, Radio Noroc, Radio 21, Pro TV Chisinau, Muzica TV made at the last contest. At the same time, such unknown stations as Radio 10 and VDT obtained 5 frequencies of the 8 they applied for, and, respectively, 8 channels of the 11 they asked for. But such broadcasters as Antena C radio station and NIT television channels, whose activity was criticized by the BCC before the contest, obtained the frequencies they applied for: Antena C - 6 frequencies of 7, while NIT - 12 of 12.

The media nongovernmental organizations question the independence of the BCC given that it takes part in orchestrated actions initiated outside the broadcasting authority. The signatories consider that the political pressure exerted on a broadcaster should have motivated the Council to examine the case at a public meeting that would have insured and protected the interest of the public and the rights and freedoms of the broadcaster, in accordance with the Broadcasting Code. These principles laid the basis of the new legal framework that was to accelerate the constitution of a broadcaster working in accordance with the democratic values and European standards in Moldova.

Though it committed itself to building a society based on democratic values, traditionally Moldova lags behind in insuring the freedom of the media, including the broadcasting one. The government's attitude towards the mass media, especially during election campaigns, is an incontestable test of the democratic changes. A parallel should be drawn here: in 2004, before the parliamentary elections (in December), a television channel (NIT) considered pro-governmental by the society won licenses for a number of frequencies, while in 2008, before the parliamentary elections, a TV channel (Pro TV Chisinau) that is considered independent and professional by the society risks losing the license for the frequencies it uses. These are only two examples that show ho w the authorities perceive the role of mass media in the society, especially during election campaigns. Therefore, the planned contest for the frequencies held by Pro TV arouses the society's concerns and the BCC will have to take a test to prove its integrity as independent authority that serves the public.

Given the created situation, the media NGOs call on the Moldovan authorities to fulfill their internal and external commitment to stick to the European values, including by protecting and insuring pluralism and diversity in the broadcasting area. They warn the BCC that it should support the development of the national broadcasters in accordance with the law and by promoting the public interest. "We call on the all national social institutions to support Pro TV in its efforts to continue its public mission of broadcaster and monitor how the BCC will insure the prolongation of the activity of this TV channel. We cal upon the embassies, representative offices of international organizations working in Chisinau, European and international organizations concerned about the democratization process in Moldova to take attitude and sensitize the Moldovan authorities to the serious consequences of the possible disappearance of a reputable TV channel for the society," says the statement signed by the Electronic Press Association, Acces-info Center, the Independent Journalism Center, the Young Journalist's Center of Moldova, the Journalistic Investigations Center, the Committee for the Freedom of the Press, the Association of Independent Press, and the Journalists' Union of Moldova.

When the news story was published, the list of signatories was open for all those that wanted to subscribe to the statement.



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