Representatives of Cinema 1, Prime, ProTV Chisinau, Jurnal TV, Moldova 1, and TV8 will be part of a commission that will organize the competition for the selection of the audience measurement company in Moldova. Three other members will be delegated from advertising distributors Casa Media Corp, NovaTV Grup, and Sales Platform. The decision was made by the Broadcasting Council (BC) on August 18, after neither the audiovisual media service providers nor the advertising distributors reached a consensus to appoint the nine members of the commission, as required by the rules.
In the absence of consensus, six members of the commission were appointed from among media service providers, under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Moldova, who rank in the top six positions according to audience rating developed by the current market measurer, the TV company MR MLD. Likewise, the three members from the advertising distributors rank in the top three positions by WGRP inventory volume purchased during Q1 2023.
At the same time, the BC appointed two observer members from the staff of the Council apparatus – Serghei Martin, Head of the Suppliers Licensing Department, and Grigore Chitanu, Head of the Legal Department.
According to the authority, the competition commission will convene for the first time in the coming period.
The Supervisory Board of Gagauziya Radio Television (GRT) has announced Vasile Dermenji as the public company’s executive director, according to a press release published by GRT.
In July 2023, the GRT Board launched the competition for the post after the position became vacant in June. At that time, Vadim Anastasov, the former director, announced his resignation without giving any reason. Two other candidates applied for the post: Maria Perebikovskaya and Feodor Dobrov, but the former did not take part in the competition held on August 14.
Vasile Dermenji graduated from the Moldovan Academy of Economic Studies with a major in law, and from 2019 to the present he has worked as a lawyer in the “For Orhei” Association, affiliated to the Shor Party. Asked by the Independent Journalism Center’s (IJC) Media Azi portal how he will ensure the editorial independence of the public company, the new director said that one has nothing to do with the other and that he is not duty-bound to convince anyone of anything.
Radio Studentus’ broadcasting license was extended for another nine years at the Broadcasting Council (BC) meeting on August 18. Council officials found that Studentus had missed the statutory deadline when it applied for the license extension and was almost two months late in submitting its application. The extension decision was supported by five out of seven members of the CB. Eugeniu Ribca and Ruslan Mihalevschi, the two members of the CB who spoke against the license extension, argued that such a decision would contradict similar precedents.
The chair of the authority, Liliana Vitu, argued the importance of an individual approach, considering the relevant aspects of each case. In addition, the Council considered as mitigating circumstances the fact that the delay of the license extension request was also caused by the holiday period, coupled with the inexperience of the radio station, which applied for the extension for the first time, and the fact that Studentus produces local content in Romanian for a less active audience such as young people.
Three graduates of the School of Journalism of Moldova (SJM) from all 17 classes will have the opportunity to do a paid internship for one month in a Romanian newsroom this year. The program is supported by the US Embassy in Moldova, within the project “Strengthening the capacity of the media to produce high quality local creative and informative content”, implemented by SJM from July 2022 to July 2024.
The internship could be carried out in October-December 2023, depending on the availability of the newsrooms chosen by the winners, which, however, could not last more than one month. After completing the internship, the beneficiaries will continue their work as journalists in a newsroom in the Republic of Moldova for at least half a year. Similarly, the three internship winners will organize a discussion club, with the support of the SJM, for students of journalism faculties in the country to share their experiences, tips, and lessons learned during the internship.
The regulation on the coverage of elections by media outlets came into force with the publication of the document in the Official Gazette on August 4, 2023. The provisions of this act are mandatory for media outlets that will cover parliamentary, presidential, local, regional, new and by-elections, and referendums. The document was approved by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) to transpose the provisions of the new Electoral Code, which came into force at the end of 2022.
The document regulates the legitimization by the CEC of journalists, as well as freelancers such as bloggers or vloggers as observers. The file of bloggers or vloggers must contain “proof from the National Association of Journalists and/or a list of publications.”
The document lays down several rules that broadcasters must follow. Among other things, media outlets that will produce election debate programs must broadcast these media products during prime time and must distinguish them from other programs with unique acoustic and visual signals. At the same time, TV and radio stations broadcasting the results of opinion polls on voters’ political preferences during the election period must disclose who commissioned and paid for the poll, as well as information on the methodology and margin of error of the poll.
Election contestants are to be invited to the debate by name and in public at least two days before the scheduled debate. “Refusal to participate or absence from the debate of any contestant or referendum participant shall be made public and shall not constitute grounds for canceling or suspending the debate. In the event of the absence from the debate of an electoral contestant or referendum participant, the time reserved for him or her shall not be recovered and shall not be redistributed to those present,” the rules state.
The notion of misinformation, introduced in the Audiovisual Media Services
Code (AMSC), has entered into force after being published in the Official
Gazette on August 11, the Broadcasting Council (BC) announced in a press
It reads as follows: “disinformation – the intentional dissemination, by any
means, in the public domain, of information which is verifiably false or
misleading and likely to harm national security.”
At the same time, for repeated broadcasting of content qualified as
disinformation, TV or radio stations could be punished with the deprivation of
the right to use the multiplex with national coverage, says BC.
Previously, the initiators of the draft law claimed that the proposed amendments would allow better enforcement of the rules on combating
disinformation, as well as those on the protection of minors, the functioning of
the BC, etc.
In the draft’s explanatory note, the authors explained that the concept of
disinformation is applicable to the activity of spreading false information that
is likely to harm the interests of society as a whole, related to the right to
correct information, and the use of the instrument of disinformation affects not
the interests of an individual, but the national interests.
The Broadcasting Council (BC) has fined Media Pro Group, the founder of ITV, 7,000 lei (350 euro) for failing to seek the BC’s consent to change the composition of its shareholders as required by law. The decision was taken at a public meeting on 18 August.
According to the BC, the company Media Pro Group informed the authority about the changes in the ownership structure on June 30, 2023, and the institution requested further clarification and explained to the provider that it is obliged to obtain the approval of the BC for any changes in the declared documents and data. Instead, on July 6, Media Pro Group informed that the changes had already taken place.
The company sent to the BC an extract from the State Register of Legal Entities, issued on June 30, in which Hromi Julien Ecaterina is listed as the sole shareholder, with a 100% stake. Currently, according to the data published on the portal of the Audiovisual Council, the beneficial owners of Media Pro Group include Natalia Poleacova, with a 49% share, and Ivan Vuicu, with 51%.
At the meeting where the issue was discussed, BC President Liliana Vitu said
that this is not an unprecedented situation, but that, considering the seriousness of the violation, the sanction should be higher: “It is about the legal regime of ownership, transparency of ownership, leading to other audiovisual problems.”
The Broadcasting Council (BC) fined Teleradio-Moldova, the founder of Moldova 1 TV station, ProDigital, the founder of ProTV Chisinau, and Media Alternativa – the owner of TV8 – 5,000 lei (250 euro) each for failing to comply with the general concept of the audiovisual media service. Real Radio, the founder of TV Familia, was fined 7,000 lei (350 euro) for the same violation at the Board meeting on August 18, 2023.
The BC decided to verify compliance with the general concept by Familia, Vocea Basarabiei, Art TV, BTV, ProTV Chisinau, TV8, TV Elita, and Moldova 1 in June, on the premise that their broadcasting licenses are due to expire in 2024.
Following monitoring, the Council found that Moldova 1 broadcast fewer of its products but more than four times the volume of other producers’ programs. The public broadcaster did not provide explanations to the BC.
Voice of Bessarabia produced almost 6% less of its own output than originally planned (96%) but aired more programs from other producers, although they indicated 0% in this respect in the original concept. This broadcaster did not offer an explanation to BC either.
In the case of ProTV Chișinău, it was found, among other things, that in the chapter on programs acquired, retransmitted, and taken over, 70% was indicated, when in fact almost 55% were made. The station also broadcast far fewer cultural and educational programs than it had initially claimed. Nor has ProTV come up with a reaction to the issue.
TV8, among other deviations, made almost 10% less of its own production
than it had planned. Instead, it broadcast almost 20% more programs from other producers. Deviations were also found in the volume of programs of European origin, and those of foreign producers. TV8 justified the low share of own production by the end of seasons of some programs before the monitoring period – a summer period with lower production capacity.
TV Elita and Familia also recorded deviations in their own programs, news and analytical programs, and films. TV Elita expressed disagreement with some of BC’s calculations.
Art TV and BTV did not submit the records requested by the BC. Therefore, the authority decided to continue the control of BTV, as they did not broadcast during the monitoring period and ART TV was fined 5,000 lei (250 euro) for not submitting the recordings.
Art TV and BTV did not submit the recordsrequested by the BC. Therefore, the authority decided to continue the controlof BTV, as they did not broadcast during the monitoring period and ART TV wasfined 5,000 lei (250 euro) for not submitting the recordings.
The Broadcasting Council (BC) has imposed more than 20 sanctions totaling 437,000 lei (22,850 euro) on Prime, Publika TV, Channel 2, Channel 3, Channel 5, Mega TV and Familia for non-compliance with local programming regulations. The decision was taken at a meeting on Friday 18 August.
According to the monitoring report, Prime channel made about four hours less local programs than planned, of which almost nine hours were self-promotion. A further 28 hours were supposed to be prime time, but the station broadcast just over 1 hour. In prime time, Prime broadcast almost 12 hours less programs than it should have, with a total penalty of 35,000 lei (1,750 euro).
Publika TV broadcast almost 44 hours less local programs than required by law. The station gave just over 12 hours of local product, with about 4 hours being self-promotion. The share of local programs broadcast in prime time was almost 78.5% lower than the target. The penalties imposed on Publika TV amounted to 40,000 lei (2,000 euro).
Channel 2 broadcast the highest volume of self-promotion – almost 14 hours
and 30 minutes out of a total of about 49 hours of local programs. Romanian language programs accounted for almost 39 hours. In prime time they were more than 13 and a half hours less than the legal requirement. The penalty amount imposed was 66,000 lei (3,300 euro). BC recalls that in March 2023, the company Telestar Media, the founder of Channel 2, was repeatedly sanctioned for similar violations.
Channel 3 made almost twice as few local programs, just over 30 hours, of which seven and a half hours were self-promotion. The station aired about 18 hours of Romanian-language content, and in prime time had more than 53.5% less programming than it should have. The penalties amounted to 94,000 lei (4700 euro). In March 2023, Canal 3 was also fined in this respect.
In prime time, Channel 5 had more than 61% less local product. Instead, almost 14 hours were self-promotion, out of a total of 31 hours and 39 minutes of local production. In Romanian, the channel aired about 5 hours less programming than it was following. The penalties thus totaled 65,000 lei, while last year it had already been fined for similar infringements.
Mega TV, according to the BC monitoring, broadcast almost 17 hours fewer local programs than it should have, and in peak viewing hours it aired about 9 and a half hours less programs than planned. Mega TV also had insufficient programs in Romanian, and the amount of the fines imposed by BC was 47,000 lei (2,350 euro).
Station Familia made over 8 hours less local programming, a total of about 48 hours, of which over 11 hours were self-promotion. At the same time, the broadcaster had about three hours fewer programs in prime time. According to BC, the fines amounted to 90,000 lei (4,500 euro).
The Broadcasting Council (BC) has fined Radio Jean, Datina FM, and Drive FM a total of 47,000 lei (2350 euro) for unjustified interruptions of more than ten days or intermittently for more than 30 days in a year. The decision was made at the August 11 BC meeting via a unanimous vote of the members present.
The fines were imposed after the Council ordered the control of Radio 7, Radio Jean, Datina FM and Drive FM on June 23, 2023. In July, the CB asked the entities managing these stations (Fluctus SRL – Datina FM, Asociatia Obștească “Autonomia Noastra” – Radio Jean, Lux Gsm SRL – Drive FM and AER Comunicații SRL – Radio 7) to provide information on broadcasts from January 1 to July 4, 2023.
At the same time, the BC requested the National Radio Frequency Management Service to verify whether several frequencies of Drive FM, Radio Jean, Datina FM and Radio 7 in different regions of the country had broadcasting interruptions and what the duration of these interruptions was. As a result of the checks, during the entire monitoring period, the Service found that Datina FM, on the frequency in Chisinau, Radio Jean – in Cahul, Drive FM – in Taraclia and Causeni were not on air. Radio Jean stopped broadcasting on the frequency in Baurci from April 7 to July 6, 2023. No interruptions were recorded for Radio 7 during the monitoring period. As a result, Fluctus SRL and Lux Gsm SRL were fined 16,000 lei (800 euro) each, and the Public Association “Autonomia Noastra” – 15,000 lei (750 euro).
The radio stations have 30 days to resume their activities.
At the request of BC member Eugeniu Ribca, these radio stations will be checked again in November. He argued that radio frequencies are a national heritage for which there is “a fight” and that not using them “cannot be justified”.
According to the Audiovisual Media Services Code, media service providers must bring the sound level of programs in line with that of commercial broadcasts, and BC regularly monitors compliance with this provision. This time, the authority targeted four TV stations on June 16, 18 and 21, in different time slots. Publika TV did not deviate, while Jurnal TV was fined 5,000 lei (250 euro), Moldova 1 – 6,000 lei (300 euro) and Moldova 2 – 7,000 lei (350 euro).
BC can impose fines if there is a gap between the sound level of advertising and that of media programs in 2017, when it was equipped with the necessary equipment. In April 2022, the institution published an explanatory guide on the standardization of sound loudness.
According to an analysis by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC), the Government of Moldova has not fulfilled its obligation to approve, by April 8, 2023, regulations on the establishment and functioning of the Council on Public Service Announcements.
“This state of affairs is delaying the process of correct and effective implementation of the provisions of the new law on advertising, creating a deadlock in the exploitation of public interest messages,” the authors state. At the same time, the IJC notes that the Government’s “backlog” creates the possibility of admitting disagreements in the regulations to be contained in the administrative normative acts, concerning public interest messages, which are on the table of other authorities.
The IJC also recommends that the Government of the Republic of Moldova adopt, as a matter of urgency, regulations on the structure, way of establishment, organization, and functioning of the Council on Public Interest Messages, as the new normative act is of increased importance, especially in the context of the rapid development of the advertising field, the diversification of the means of expression of advertising, as well as the problems encountered in the previous practices of the authorities vested with the powers of supervision and control over the compliance with this law.
The institutions responsible for overseeing compliance with the legislation on advertising activity under the new legal framework are the Competition Council, the Broadcasting Council, and the Police, to the extent of their powers.
In August, the Independent Journalism Center kicked off a new season of the cuMINTE podcast. In the first edition, the guests of the show, the director of the Moldovan School of Journalism, Maia Metaxa, and the editor-in-chief of the Agora.md portal, Felicia Nedzelschi, discussed the advantages and disadvantages of artificial intelligence in the media.
According to journalist Felicia Nedzelschi, the Agora portal uses ChatGPT sometimes, but not as a tool that would be part of the editorial strategy. After all, ChatGPT is a generator of text from existing text, and the content it generates is not original, she says.
For her part, the director of the Moldovan School of Journalism, Maia Metaxa, says that she has started to integrate this tool into her work and that she uses ChatGPT to generate texts related to marketing and promotion. In general, however, at the school, for the time being, we don’t have a policy of using ChatGPT or artificial intelligence, says Maia Metaxa, adding: We are shocked by the speed, rather, not the fact that we are talking to a machine, and it responds to us in a human style, but the speed at which it delivers some information to you.
However, believes the director of the Moldovan School of Journalism, using artificial intelligence, journalists must be involved in monitoring and verifying the content of the material provided by this machine, to avoid the dissemination of false news and misinformation and to ensure the accuracy and impartiality of the information. And Felicia Nedzelschi adds in this context that ChatGPT is not a source you can quote, because you don’t know where it gets the information it delivers.
In conclusion, the show’s guests conclude that there is a need for training for journalists and a guide for media outlets that would help them use intelligence more effectively in the media.
The cuMINTE podcast is produced by the Independent Journalism Center with support from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).
IJC and Internews Updates
Primary school pupils will study the optional subject Media Literacy from a new textbook from the academic year 2023-2024. The Independent Journalism Center (IJC) has updated the book in line with new trends, considering the suggestions of several teachers who have been teaching the course since 2017.
According to IJC executive director Nadine Gogu, technological and digital advances in recent years have influenced the media landscape, and the textbook needed to be updated. In the process, the experiences of the teachers who teach the subject were also considered, so that the content would be as user-friendly and easy for students to assimilate as possible.
Steluta Gutu, a teacher at the Olimp High School in Singerei, is one of the teachers who offered suggestions for updating the primary school textbook, based on the experience she has gained in teaching. She believes that the course is particularly important in shaping students’ critical thinking.
The textbook is updated in both Romanian and Russian versions. The IJC will offer the updated textbooks free of charge to teachers and students teaching and studying the optional subject of Media Literacy.
In the coming months, the IJC will update the textbooks for the secondary and high school levels. The authors of the handbook are education experts Dr. Loretta Handrabura and Natalia Griu.
This activity is part of the project “Media Literacy Advancement and Support to Moldovan Media”, supported by Sweden and implemented by Internews in Moldova. The program aims to contribute to the growth of a diverse media sector.