Media NGOs express their concern about the fostering of the concentration of media ownership in Moldova by the adoption by the Broadcasting Council (BC) of two recent decisions that facilitate the consolidation of the PSRM-affiliated media holding, through companies and individuals close to this political party.
On 21 October 2019, BC accepted the request of Telesistem SRL, which manages Accent TV channel, to rename the media institution into ‘Primul in Moldova’. In practical terms, BC decision meant changing the name, the logo, and the broadcast grid of Accent TV channel. As reason, Telesistem SRL invoked the entering into force of a contract to rebroadcast ‘Pervii Kanal’ TV channel from Russia. Note that Telesistem SRL was set up by another company – Media Invest Service, founded by Vadim Ciubara, about whom RISE Moldova said he was Igor Dodon’s ‘shady’ adviser.
Meanwhile, the same company requested a new license for Accent TV, while keeping its old name and logo. During its meeting on 4 November 2019, BC approved this request too, giving the company a broadcast license for nine years.
Hence, Telesistem SRL became the beneficiary of two distinct TV channels.
Two other TV channels, i.e. NTV Moldova which rebroadcasts the Russian NTV channel and Exclusiv TV which rebroadcasts TNT, are also affiliated to PSRM, both being managed by Exclusiv Media SRL, founded by PSRM MP Corneliu Furculita.
We draw the attention of BC members that the monitoring of the PSRM-affiliated TV channels, carried out by the civil society during the last years, during the election campaigns, but also outside the elections, as well as the monitoring carried out by the BC itself, found that these channels had and have the same editorial approach while covering the most important topics on the public agenda, massively favoring and openly promoting PSRM candidates and negatively covering their opponents.
We anticipate that these decisions of the BC could create a situation similar to that attested in the previous years. More specifically, though in 2017 the law was amended so that no single media owner could possess more than two broadcast licenses, the impact of this legal norm is negligible. Following these amendments, a number of broadcasters have de jure changed their owner, but de facto there has been no change in their editorial policies, and they continued to promote the agenda of the parties they are affiliated to.
We ask BC members to observe not only the letter, but also the spirit of the law, so as to ensure media pluralism and not to admit the creation of dominant situations on the media market.
We urge BC, as guarantor of the public interest according to Article 73 of the Audiovisual Media Services Code, to review the Accent TV’s file so as to ensure the right of citizens to accurate, impartial and good-faith information. According to the Audiovisual Media Services Code, the public interest in the broadcasting field represents the interest in ensuring a pluralistic and objective information of the population, and this interest shall be higher than the political, economic, commercial, ideological or other interests.
Independent Journalism Center
Association of Independent Press
Association of Electronic Press
Center for Investigative Journalism
Press Freedom Committee
Association of Independent TV Journalists