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Publika TV Publicly Warned About a Defamatory Title Targeting an MP

06 June 2019
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At its meeting on 5 June, the Broadcasting Council (BC) publicly warned Publika TV for violating the law on ensuring accurate information of viewers. The sanction was applied after the MP Arina Spataru (PPDA) complained to BC on Prime TV, Publika TV and TVN that they did not give her the right to reply.
In her petition, Arina Spataru informed the BC that in their reports the three TV stations broadcast manipulative information, which damaged her honor and reputation. She said the reports were both on TV and online.

The reports said that a group of mothers suspected the MP of taking their money collected during a charity fair for their children suffering of autism. Arina Spataru denied these allegations via a message posted on her Facebook page. The MP argued that journalists failed to ask for her opinion and didn’t observe her right to reply.

The results of the BC monitoring confirmed that on 24 April 2019, Publika TV broadcast the report entitled ‘Tears of an MP on Facebook. PPDA MP, Alina Spataru Cried on Facebook. Alina Spataru Regrets that she Failed to Drink Cognac’.

The BC found that, by broadcasting such a title, Publika TV violated the Broadcasting Code, according to which the titles and texts displayed on the screen during news and debate programs shall reflect as faithfully as possible the essence of the facts and data presented.

In its explanation to BC, Publika TV management said that the MP was to specify for what defamatory information she was asking for the right to reply. The TV station argued that it didn’t refuse to give the right to reply, but that ‘it can be exercised by publishing the reply on the website, specifying that the right to reply will be offered only for the challenged defamatory information which will be published in decent terms and will not contain threats or marginal comments’.

After examining the matter, the BC Chair, Dragos Vicol, proposed to sanction Publika TV with a public warning. The decision was unanimously approved.

The other two TV stations, invoked by the MP in her petition to BC, were not sanctioned. TVN gave the MP the right to reply on the same day when asked, while Prime TV broadcast the MP’s opinion denying the allegations in the report entitled ‘PPDA MP, Arina Spataru, Tried to Justify Herself to a Number of Mothers. What Was the Reason’, published on 25 April 2019.