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In 2018, the Year of Elections, TV Channels Affiliated with the Democrats Will Expand Their Territorial Offices

17 April 2018
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A TV channel affiliated with the ruling Democratic Party (DP) has opened a local studio in Nisporeni Town. This is Canal 2 TV station, which formerly belonged to the DP President Vladimir Plahotniuc and is currently the property of his political counselor Oleg Cristal. Petru Macovei, Executive Director of the Association of Independent Press (AIP), believes that this channel has been launched to provide information support and to promote the candidate that is to be nominated by the Democrats in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, in which 51 MPs will be elected in uninominal circumscriptions. Ion Bunduchi, Executive Director of the Electronic Press Association (APEL), considers that were it not for possible political interests, the emergence of local stations should be encouraged, but their launch will not imply a simultaneous increase in the media product quality.
Interventions from the local studio in Nisporeni in the Canal 2 broadcast schedule will account for about 10% of the total broadcast volume. These will be newscasts produced by journalists from Nisporeni and a weekly talk show moderated by journalist Vadim Stângaciu. At the same time, the video report about the recently launched studio reveals that the outlet shares the office with two other TV channels - Noroc TV and Vocea Basarabiei. On the information panel displayed in front of the office, we can also read the name of the company – Team Media. According to the district administration, the premises where the above TV channels are located are leased on the basis of an agreement signed by Team Media and Nisporeni District Council as the owner of the building.


Panoul din fața sediului Canal 2. Captură foto.
Just Like at PRO TV in Romania
 

Lidia Viziru, Deputy Head of the General Directorate for Licensing, Authorization, and Monitoring at the Broadcasting Coordinating Council (BCC), has told Media-azi.md that the regulating authority was informed by the channel’s administration that the outlet had opened a local studio in Nisporeni.
She added that any broadcaster in the Republic of Moldova has the right to open local studios and is not obliged to obtain a special license in this case; it only has to inform the Council by sending a notification about this fact. Viziru mentioned the example of Romania, where PRO TV channel has several studios in different localities of the country. “In addition to PRO TV headquarters in Bucharest, they also have studios all over the country, which are given airtime in their main broadcast schedule. Canal 2 has done exactly the same thing,” Viziru explains.
This source also informed us that on April 6, the Council received a similar notice from Noroc TV channel, which announced the BCC that it had also opened a local studio in Nisporeni.
“We Will Criticize Nonsense”
Canal 2 local studio in Nisporeni also has a Facebook page, where it has already published promotional reports and the first newscast. The outlet promises to broadcast news on the events in Nisporeni District and in nearby localities every evening. “We are going to promote good things, hardworking people, rational initiatives, and other values that contribute to well-being. But we will criticize corruption, indifference, and nonsense," the launch message by Canal 2 in Nisporeni says.
“We Struggle with Moldova 1”
The team of the Nisporeni studio was formed practically in three weeks. Ruslan Grabari, Canal 2 Project Manager in Nisporeni, told Media-azi.md that he had had certain problems with “human resources in the province.”
Grabari added that Canal 2 channel administration had been planning to launch local studios in different regions of the country for two years, given that the Moldovan audiovisual market is oversaturated with news from Chisinau, and there is a lack of local news.

According to Grabari, it will give the outlet a possibility to expand its audience. “We are direct competitors with Moldova 1. Therefore, we struggle for audience with them. At 19:00, we have the main newscast, just as Moldova 1 has Mesager, and, finally, we have a larger audience,” Grabari explained.

District Support

Ruslan Grabari mentioned that the studio rents premises from Nisporeni District Council. In fact, the head of the district, Democrat Ghenadie Verdeș, appeared both in the first report about the launched studio and in its first talk show.
He confirmed for Media-azi.md that the new studio rents the respective premises from Nisporeni District Council. “We have a Council decision on the leasing of the premises,” Ghenadie Verdeș said; he also mentioned that, as far as he knows, the lease agreement was signed with a single “media company, which owns such channels as Canal 2, Noroc TV, and Vocea Basarabiei.”
Team Media
Besides, in the report about the recently launched studio, one could see a signboard with the names of Canal 2 channel, Team Media Company, and TV channels Vocea Basarabiei and Noroc TV in front of the office building.
Previously, Anticorupţie.md portal wrote that Vocea Basarabiei TV channel could reappear on the media market of Moldova. According to the portal, the channel’s revival was preceded by the transfer of the license from the company Canal X SRL, founded by the administrator of Caravita Company, to another company founded in 2017 and managed by a person in charge of organizational issues at Noroc TV.
Maria Sîrbu, a specialist at the Economy Department at Nisporeni District Council, confirmed for Media-azi.md that the lease agreement for the premises was signed with Team Media Company.
According to the data provided by the State Registration Chamber, the founder of the company is Cristina Țopa, who holds 100% of shares. The company was registered on February 22, 2018, and is located at 4 Suveranității Street in Nisporeni, which is also the address of Canal 2 TV channel.

Purposeful Dedication

Petru Macovei, AIP Executive Director, believes that one of the purposes of launching a local studio of a TV channel from Chisinau is to promote the Democratic Party’s messages. “Actually, the expansion of a TV channel in the regions is a positive thing, but in this specific case, it is clear that this local studio has been ‘purposefully dedicated’ to the parliamentary elections, namely in order to provide information support and to promote the candidate nominated by the Democratic Party,” Macovei said.


Președintele PDM, Vladimir Plahotniuc. Sursa Foto: Facebook

Regarding the fact that two other TV channels - Vocea Basarabiei and Noroc TV – appear on the signboard in the report about the recently launched studio, Petru Macovei believes that it “confirms that some smaller broadcasters or those faced with financial problems are being ‘absorbed’ by Plahotniuc’s media trust. In other words, the concentration of media ownership on the market is growing.”
Asked by Media-azi.md if the objective of this studio is the upcoming parliamentary elections, Ruslan Grabari, Canal 2 Project Manager in Nisporeni, denied this. “We will live through the elections, and you will see that we are going to stay. After the elections, nothing will close. It is just a coincidence. We had our plans. We had been pondering over it for two years. And as soon as we found the equipment, we launched it,” Grabari replied.

Will the Channels Contribute to Better Information?

Ion Bunduchi believes that if we disregard any political interests in the perspective of the parliamentary elections, the creation of these local branches by national televisions should be welcomed and encouraged. “National TV channels, in terms of content, are almost entirely TV channels from the capital. But events of interest happen everywhere people live. They reside not only in Chișinău. Obviously, we might ask why it has happened exactly now and why in this very town and not another one, for instance, in the about one third of districts that have neither local radio nor local TV. On the other hand, we cannot order economic agents where and when they should invest their money,” Bunduchi explained.
The media expert pointed out that normally, the emergence of branches in the areas where other media work should create competition, which in its turn should stimulate the quality of media products. However, he questions the functionality of this development model in this case. “It is hard to assume that this will happen overnight, as the commercial advertising market in rural areas is extremely restricted. All we have to do is to intently watch the phenomenon and see whether it could contribute to informing citizens better,” Bunduchi said.
It should be mentioned that until May 2017, Vlad Plahotniuc owned four TV channels: Publika TV, Prime TV, Canal 2, and Canal 3, and three radio stations: Publika FM, Muz FM, and Maestro FM. Subsequently, General Media Group SRL Company, which included these channels, assigned the broadcasting rights of Canal 2 and Canal 3 to Telestar SRL, a company administered and founded by Oleg Cristal, Vlad Plahotniuc’s political counselor.