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Why Does the Broadcasting Need Harsher Sanctions?

27 July 2016
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Tatiana PUIU, expert in media legislation
 

The moderate fines stipulated by the current legislation do not represent sufficient constraint measures and the excesses of some TV stations cannot be tempered with fines of several thousand lei. This problem has been constantly raised by national and international media experts who recommended establishing an adequate legal framework required for preventing and sanctioning attempts of violating the audiovisual legislation.
 
From this perspective, the new draft Broadcasting Code that has been voted in the first reading, includes a full list of severe sanctions for the providers or distributors of services that will admit violations of the audiovisual legislation such as: higher fines, prohibition to broadcast advertising for 15 – 30 days; suspension of the broadcasting license, audiovisual license or rebroadcasting license for 30 to 60 days; revocation of the broadcasting license, audiovisual license or of the rebroadcasting license.
 
To this end, fines between 30 000 lei and 50 000 lei are suggested for: non-compliance with the provisions on the protection of minors; illegal use of another broadcaster’s signals or logo, broadcasting of cinema works outside the periods stipulated in the contracts with copyright holders; refusal to accept checks, to allow access in the premises where it operates or to make available to the authorized representatives the requested documents and broadcast programs; non-compliance with the obligation to keep the records of the broadcast programs for at least 30 days from the date of broadcasting. Fines between 50 000 lei and 100 000 lei are suggested for violations like: rebroadcasting of a program service without holding the rebroadcasting rights; delivery of audiovisual media services that disseminate child pornography, use of subliminal techniques in the commercial audiovisual communication; for the repeated perpetration of violations for which fees 30 000 lei to 50 000 lei are established. The biggest fine amounting to 100 000 lei – 150 000 lei will be applied for violations like: broadcasting of audiovisual media services without broadcasting license or without audiovisual license; rebroadcasting of audiovisual media services without rebroadcasting license; rebroadcasting of audiovisual media services without technical license; use of broadcasting license, audiovisual license or rebroadcasting license by other individuals than their holders; unjustified interruption of broadcasting the program service for more than 30 consecutive days or for more than 60 intermittent days in one calendar year; non-compliance with the legislation on the conditions for broadcasting commercial audiovisual communications; broadcasting of programs that can severely affect children’s physical, mental or moral development.
 
It is suggested that the prohibition to broadcast advertising for 15 - 30 days is applied for the use of audiovisual communication with hidden commercial content and for the repeated perpetration of violations for which fines of 100 000 lei – 150 000 lei are established.
 
The sanction in the form of suspending the broadcasting license, audiovisual license or rebroadcasting license for 30 - 60 days will be applied for: inciting the public to national, racial or religious hatred; explicitly inciting to public violence; inciting to actions aimed at overthrowing or replacing through violence the governance or violating through violence the integrity of the Republic of Moldova; inciting to terrorist actions. For the repeated perpetration of the same violations within 6 months, the broadcasting license, audiovisual license or rebroadcasting license.
  
It should be reminded that, at present, the Broadcasting Coordinating Council gradually applies one of the following sanctions for the violation of legal provisions by the broadcasters: a) public warning; b) withdrawal of the right to broadcast advertising announcements for a specific period; c) fine; d) suspension of the broadcasting license for a specific period; e) withdrawal of the broadcasting license.

As a result of thematic monitoring, the Broadcasting Coordinating Council has applied, in the last years, fines to the broadcasters that: did not provide the necessary amount of domestic content; had a biased conduct in the local election campaign; broadcast propaganda and manipulative messages or admitted other derogations from the licensing requirements, etc. The maximum pecuniary fine applied is 5400 lei, and the suspension or withdrawal of the license is only applied in exceptional cases.
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The article was published within the Advocacy Campaigns Aimed at Improving Transparency of Media Ownership, Access to Information and promotion of EU values  and integration project, implemented by the IJC, which is, in its turn, part of the Moldova Partnerships for Sustainable Civil Society project, implemented by FHI 360.

This article is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content are the responsibility of author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government..