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IJC Report: In the last week of the campaign, all stations favored or disfavored certain electoral competitors

13 July 2021
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At the end of the campaign, the 10 monitored TV stations favored or disfavored certain electoral candidates. Two stations massively favored the Electoral Bloc of Communists and Socialists (BECS), and one favored the Șor Party (PP Șor) and disfavored the Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) and the President Moldova, Maia Sandu. Three stations disfavored BECS. Four other stations demonstrated a selective attitude towards BECS, PAS, and PP Șor.
 
The above are some of the conclusions of the last report on media monitoring during the electoral campaign, released by the IJC on July 12, which notes that:
 

  • Moldova 1 provided access to newscasts to most electoral competitors and presented them in a neutral manner, except for a slight favoring of BECS and disfavoring of PAS and President Maia Sandu, which was evident in the selection of topics and in biased approach. Most of the conflicting materials were balanced, and the language and images were in line with deontological standards. From a gender perspective, the public station did not ensure balance between male and female sources in the monitored news.

 

  • NTV Moldova and Primul în Moldova provided airtime to more than half of the electoral competitors. These stations demonstrated a biased and partisan behavior in relation to BECS, which benefited from the most airtime for interventions, and the tone of its coverage was positive and neutral. PAS was disfavored, as well as President Maia Sandu. Most of the times, the tone adopted by NTV Moldova and Primul în Moldova in relation to PAS was negative. About half of the controversial news stories were balanced. The language and images used were, with some exceptions, neutral. The gender balance was tilted towards male sources.

 

  • Jurnal TV covered the campaign activities of most electoral competitors in a correct and fair manner. Some of the materials were objective and impartial, separated facts from opinions, and there were also cases of tendentiousness and lack of impartiality in relation to some competitors. Many of the competitors were presented in a neutral manner, except for BECS and PACE, which were covered neutrally, but were also disadvantaged by a relatively large number of materials with a negative tone. The station ensured the diversity of sources, and the language and images used were in most cases neutral. From a gender perspective, Jurnal TV did not ensure balance between male and female sources.

 

  • Pro TV provided airtime to most electoral competitors. Most of the materials were objective and impartial, facts were separated from opinions, and the language and images used were neutral, with some exceptions. The station covered most of the electoral competitors in a neutral tone, except for BECS, which it disfavored both by the negative tone and by selection of topics or the angle of approach. The station did not ensure the diversity of sources or their gender equality.

 

  • Prime TV and Publika provided access to news to less than half of the electoral competitors, most of whom were covered in a neutral and impartial manner. For Prime TV, the exception was PP Șor, in relation to which the station adopted a positive tone in materials about the development of infrastructure in Orhei district. Both stations, from the perspective of the airtime allocated to interventions, showed predilection for BECS, which was slightly favored by selection of topics for coverage and the angle of approach. Controversial materials were balanced. The language and images were in line with deontological standards. The gender balance was tilted towards male sources.

 

  • RTR Moldova covered the electoral campaign mostly in a correct, neutral, and fair manner, without mixing facts with opinions or using inappropriate language. Most of the competitors registered for elections had access to newscasts, and the tone towards them was neutral, except for PP Șor, which was favored by the airtime allocated to direct and indirect interventions and presented in positive light. The station did not ensure the gender balance of sources, with men being cited or mentioned four times more than women.

 

  • TV6 provided access to news to less than half of the electoral competitors. The station visibly favored PP Șor by the frequency and the amount of airtime allocated to interventions, as well as by the positive tone present in materials. In relation to PAS, the tone of coverage was negative in some cases. This competitor was also disadvantaged by negative materials about President Maia Sandu, the former leader of PAS. In conflicting news stories, sources were usually balanced. The language and video images used were in line with deontological standards. From the perspective of gender balance, the monitored news stories were unbalanced.

 

  • TV8 offered airtime to less than half of the electoral competitors and in most cases adopted a neutral tone. In relation to BECS, there was a tendency to disfavor it by selection of topics for coverage. Controversial materials were balanced. The language and images used were in line with deontological standards. From the perspective of gender equality, the station gave priority to male sources.

 
This behavior of broadcasters in the final stage of the campaign could be explained, among other things, by the inactivity of the Broadcasting Council, which did not take any action to hold stations accountable for violation of electoral law, believes Nadine Gogu, the executive director of the IJC. “If a broadcaster covers the campaign in a correct and fair manner, tries to give everyone access to the news, but sees that those who do not do so are not penalized, it may wonder why it should strive harder than others,” noted Nadine Gogu.
 
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.