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The fourth IJC report before the elections: Only three of the ten television stations cover the electoral campaign properly

06 July 2021
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Three of the ten television stations monitored by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) during the campaign for the early elections of July 11, 2021 covered the events and activities of electoral competitors between June 25 and July 1, 2021 in a neutral manner. Two stations massively favored the Electoral Bloc of Communists and Socialists (BECS), and one favored the Șor Party (PP Șor). All three disfavored the Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) and the Moldovan President Maia Sandu. Other four stations showed selective attitude towards BECS, PP Șor, and PPDA. These are some of the conclusions of the fourth report on media monitoring during the electoral campaign, released by the IJC on Tuesday, July 6.
 
Between June 25 and July 1, 2021, the main newscasts of the 10 monitored television stations showed the following trends in the coverage of elections:
 

  • The public television station Moldova 1 provided access to news to the vast majority of electoral competitors, presenting them in a fair and impartial manner. Most of the electoral competitors appeared in neutral light, with the exception of BECS, towards which the station showed selective attitude. The bloc was favored both by the frequency and airtime of appearances, as well as by the positive tone. PAS was presented mostly neutrally, but at the same time it was disadvantaged by image transfer in materials on negative topics about President Maia Sandu, former PAS leader. In the monitored materials, facts were separated from opinion, the language and images used were appropriate. The pluralism of sources was not ensured, and the gender balance of sources was tilted towards men to the detriment of women.

 

  • NTV Moldova and Primul în Moldova provided airtime to less than half of the electoral competitors. These stations had a biased and partisan behavior in relation to BECS, which benefited from the most airtime for interventions, the tone of coverage being positive and neutral. The electoral competitor PAS was disadvantaged, being mostly mentioned rather than cited in the news, and the situation with President Maia Sandu was similar. Most of the time, the tone adopted by NTV Moldova and Primul în Moldova in relation to PAS was negative. More than half of controversial news stories were unbalanced. The gender balance was tilted towards male sources.

 

  • The television stations Jurnal TV, Pro TV, and TV8 covered the electoral campaign for the most part in a fair and impartial manner and did not visibly favor or disfavor any electoral competitor. These outlets provided access to news to the majority of candidates, often adopting a neutral tone in relation to them. Most of the monitored news stories were impartial, separated facts from opinion, and controversial stories usually ensured the balance of sources. The monitored materials were unbalanced from the perspective of gender equality.

 

  • RTR Moldova covered the electoral campaign in a fair and impartial manner, providing access to news to the majority of electoral competitors. Most of the materials were objective and unbiased, facts were separated from opinion, and the language and images used were neutral. The tone of coverage of electoral competitors was neutral for the majority of them, except PP Șor, which was favored by the large number of appearances, the airtime given to its coverage, and the positive tone. The station did not ensure the diversity of sources or their gender balance.

 

  • Prime TV and Publika TV provided access to news to less than a half of electoral competitors, treating the majority of them in an impartial and neutral manner. In terms of the airtime for interventions, selection of topics for coverage, and the angle of approach, these stations gave priority to PP Șor and BECS, which in several cases appeared in positive light. Publika TV also showed some preference for PPDA, given the topics it chose. The two stations ensured the right to reply to all the people accused. Most of the news stories were based on one source. The stations did not ensure gender balance among sources/protagonists.

 

  • TV6 provided access to news to less than half of the electoral competitors. It clearly favored PP Șor, both by the frequency and airtime of interventions and by the positive tone. In several news stories, the station had a negative tone in relation to PAS and President Maia Sandu, as well as for BERU. Some of these materials were unbalanced. Sources were not sufficiently diverse, and some conflicting news stories were unbalanced or partially balanced. The station did not ensure gender balance, which was tilted towards men.

 
The IJC recommends journalists to use monitoring reports as tools for self-regulation, and the Broadcasting Council (BC) to take note of the findings and use monitoring data to assess whether these televisions provide equal access to all candidates and comply with the right to full, objective, and truthful information.
 
“Judging by the first report released by the BC last week, this institution also found some trends that show favoring or disfavoring of some electoral competitors. At the BC meeting, some of its members suggested applying sanctions to several broadcasters that were partisan. However, these proposals did not get the necessary number of votes. The majority of BC members decided to apply sanctions to only one broadcaster, which we did not monitor. The other televisions that massively favored certain competitors were not sanctioned,” underlined Nadine Gogu, the executive director of the IJC.
 
By monitoring the media, the IJC aimed to inform the public about the media behavior during the electoral campaign and the access of electoral competitors to the media, as well as to notify the regulators about the trends that might affect the performance of the media or compromise their ability to provide the public with truthful, impartial, and pluralistic information.
 
Overall, 10 broadcasters were subjected to monitoring: Moldova 1, Prime TV, Publika TV, Jurnal TV, RTR Moldova, NTV Moldova, Primul în Moldova, Pro TV, TV8, and TV6. The stations were selected according to the following criteria: audience/impact (national, regional), type of media (audiovisual), form of ownership (public, private), and language of broadcasting (Romanian, Russian).
 
This report has been prepared with the financial support of the Office of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Moldova.