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The Parliament approved in the first reading the amendments to the Code of Audiovisual Media Services proposed by PSRM

03 December 2020
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Against the background of chanting of the opposition MPs who blocked the central tribune of the Parliament, the majority of MPs approved in the first reading the new draft law on amending and supplementing the Code of Audiovisual Media Services. The document proposes returning information and analysis programs from countries that have not ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, including Russia; reducing the quotas of broadcasting the local audiovisual product; obliging journalists to disclose their sources in certain cases; and a series of changes in the activity of the public media service provider. The initiative was voted by the MPs from the Party of Socialists (PSRM), Shor Party, and the Parliamentary Platform For Moldova.

The draft law has been criticized by several representatives of non-governmental media organizations, who claimed that the document contains a series of “unjustified and even dangerous” interventions on several articles. In the opinion of NGOs, it is also necessary to carry out an external expert analysis of the proposals included in the draft law, which was registered in the Parliament on November 23 by three Socialist MPs: Adrian Lebedinschi, Vasile Bolea, and Bogdan Tirdea.

The draft law contains amendments to several articles of the Code of Audiovisual Media Services. Among the most problematic, reported by media experts, is the proposal for the courts to be able to force journalists to disclose their source of information “if it becomes necessary in order to defend national security and public order,” an initiative qualified as “alarming” and able to affect the work of journalists.

Another problematic article, in the opinion of the media researchers previously approached by Media Azi, refers to the risks for information security and domestic media, which produce local content, in case of final adoption of the provisions on the return of military, information, and analytical programs from third countries, including Russia, or in other words, the repeal of the so-called “anti-propaganda law.”

The proposal to reduce the volume of mandatory local audiovisual product broadcast, reduce the share of programs in Romanian, and exclude the obligation to broadcast 50% of European products in the case of those purchased abroad was also criticized by experts. They believe that the proposed measures will discourage the development of local products, and some provisions are contrary to the commitments made by our country to the European Union.

Proposals to amend the Code of Audiovisual Media Services include the possibility for public service broadcasters to place paid advertising and obtain licenses without competition, a measure that could favor public media service providers over other players in the market. In order to enter into force, the draft law is to be voted on in the second reading.