During the broadcast “Let’s discuss together” (in Russian: “Обсуждаем вместе”) on February 7 on the regional public TV station Gagauziya Radio Television (GRT), attacks were launched against journalist Mihail Sirkeli, editor of the Nokta.md portal in Gagauzia.
All this was in connection with his critical views on the referendum that took place in the Gagauz autonomy in February 2014, and which was declared illegal by the Moldovan courts. According to the moderator, Mihail Sirkeli was invited to the show but refused to participate.
The whole broadcast was designed by the producers as a media lynching. The guests (deputy of the People’s Assembly L. Kiosea and two other persons presented as civic activists – I. Kilcik and M. Vlah, the latter being also the chair of the Council of Observers of the regional public media service provider GRT) for almost an hour attacked and labeled the journalist.
Non-governmental media organizations expressed their solidarity with journalist Mihail Sirkeli and called on politicians and other political activists in the autonomy to stop attacks and intimidation of inconvenient journalists and to respect the constitutional right to free expression of opinion.
The nine signatories of the statement, including the Independent Journalism Center (IJC), also warned against the biased behavior of the show’s moderator, Irina Caraman, “who, through her questions and remarks, conveyed personal opinions in agreement with the guests and did not stop them when they directly attacked the journalist for his opinions.”
The signatory NGOs recall that this is not the only attack by politicians and local activists in ATU Gagauzia on inconvenient journalists and personally on Mihail Sirkeli. “We stand in solidarity with Mihail Sirkeli and demand an end to these illegal practices of intimidation,” the statement reads.
They called on GRT’s Council of Observers to dismiss Mihail Vlah from his position as Chair of the Council because “he is a politically affiliated person and influences the editorial policy of the regional public media service provider.”
At the same time, the media NGOs called on journalists of the public broadcaster GRT not to accept the interference of politicians in their professional work and to respect the rules of professional ethics and the legal provisions ensuring the pluralism of opinions.
Media-related objectives are missing from the Recean Government’s program of activities, according to the IJC’s Media Azi portal. In the activity plan entitled “Moldova prosperous, secure, European,” the new Cabinet of Ministers set priorities for several areas, but the media sector was not included in the list. The only media-related priority is mentioned in the Justice sector and refers to the approval of a new law on access to information of public interest, accompanied by a vote on the Law on the Protection of Personal Data and the Law on the National Center for the Protection of Personal Data.
The objectives also include “preventing and combating hybrid threats in the field of cyber and information security” and the priorities for state security include “strengthening the structures responsible for combating hybrid threats and ensuring cyber security to increase the level of security for people, state institutions and the private sector,” without specific reference to the media.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson Daniel Voda said that the government’s program focuses on the application of European standards, including in the media, and transparency is an implicit subject and an objective. The program is a guideline, and other issues have not been included in detail. The current Executive must establish transparency and institutional communication as basic principles in its relations with citizens and the media.
According to Ion Bunduchi, executive director of the Electronic Press Association, media experts have noted that the executives that have come and gone in recent years have had different programs, some with general phrases about the media and others with separate and extensive sections. More actions could have been listed, in addition to the three laws assumed for adoption, but the government, in practice, will continue to be one of crises and emergencies, and enough actions will likely overturn this program as well.
Bunduchi believes that the current government does not believe that the media can be a driver of change for the better and lacks the vision to incorporate the media in accelerating priority actions.
In 2022, the media situation in the Republic of Moldova was marked by serious problems, according to the State of the Press Index (ISPM) released by the IJC at the end of January. The most critical issues are the influence of the war in Ukraine on the local press, the financial problems of the media field, the poor application of media legislation, and the insufficient professional training of journalists.
According to the document, the accumulated score is not even half of what is considered a good press climate (60 points).
The index, published for the seventh consecutive year, also shows that amendments to media legislation are welcome, but the poor application of legal rules in practice persists. Politically, the media space has been strongly influenced by the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which has created a hostile political context, especially for the independent press in Gagauzia. At the same time, the economic environment is the most vulnerable among the seven indicators as the main source of funding for media outlets continues to be foreign grants.
Last year, the quality of journalism and the professional environment were marked by the efforts of the independent press to cover the war in Ukraine accurately and to train war correspondents. However, these factors were negatively influenced by media sources adopting the “ostrich tactic” of avoiding the story. Both information security and the security of journalists in Moldova are vulnerable to the impact of hybrid threats, the study finds.
The paper’s author, media expert Ion Bunduchi, proposed a set of recommendations to redress the situation. These include supplementing media legislation by regulating all types of media, including online; diversifying sources of funding in the media and creating a fund to support the press in crises, and reforming institutions that train journalists to adjust training programs to the real requirements of the media market. It also recommends that journalists should make public any interference by state institutions in their work and any form of intimidation.
The authors of the Index on the State of the Press in Moldova (ISPM) in 2022 also note that in the context of the war in Ukraine, the authorities and representatives of civil society have cooperated for the first time on the dimension of securing the national information space to counter disinformation and manipulation through the use of the media space. However, although the cooperation resulted in concrete actions, the effectiveness was low and insufficient to ensure the security of the information space.
According to the document, in 2022 there was “an increase in cyber-attacks on information systems in the country. About 100 information resources from 40 institutions, as well as a commercial bank, were subject to attacks. Telegram accounts of current and former government officials were hacked, and websites, including media sites, were attacked.”
The report states that “at the local and international level, there have been increasing reports of phishing data and identity theft, online espionage and the use of deep fakes to discredit organizations, cyberbullying, and orchestrated defamation actions on social networks.”
On the positive side, experts note the establishment of the Coordinating Council for Information Security within the government. They also welcome the ban on disinformation in the media services introduced into the legislation, as well as the ban on audiovisual programs with news, news-analytical, military, and political content produced in countries other than the EU, the US, Canada, and countries that have ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. Broadcasts justifying wars of aggression, denying war crimes and crimes against humanity, or inciting hatred have also been banned.
The experts also recall “the most effective remedy for the security of the media space is quality journalism and media education, which over time can strengthen resilience in the face of falsehoods, misinformation, and manipulation.” As an example, the authors note that Radio Moldova and Eco FM have taken over and broadcast the podcast cuMinte, produced by IJC.
“The ban on broadcasting toxic audiovisual content, the blocking of the Sputnik.md website and, as a result, the self-dissolution of its editorial staff, as well as the suspension of the broadcasting licenses of the six TV stations have little effect as long as the legal procedures for regulating the online environment are lacking,” the document adds.
The work of Teleradio-Moldova’s (TRM) Audience Ombudsman is ineffective and “solutions are delayed.” The conclusion belongs to the Supervisory and Development Council (SDC) of the public provider and is reflected in the 2022 activity report of the SDC.
According to the SDC’s activity report, made public on Teleradio-Moldova’s official website, among the arrears recorded for last year, two concern the TRM Ombudsman service. In the first case, it concerns a decision from March last year, whereby the director general of the institution, Vlad Turcanu, was given the task of identifying solutions to make the Ombudsman’s work more efficient. “The solutions are late,” the report says. In the second decision, in April 2022, Carmela Albu was recommended to draw up monthly reports, in line with her duties under a regulation approved in July 2021. Ombudswoman Carmelia Albu “presented only one monthly activity report to the SDC at the meeting of April 19, 2022, still refusing to fulfill her obligations. About this fact, the SDC president informed the general director of the company,” the document states.
Carmelia Albu claims that she did not take part in any SDC meeting in which her professional activity was discussed: “I am not aware of any decision in this regard. It’s just someone’s opinion, I had no warning about my work,” she commented to the IJC portal, Media Azi.
According to the TRM Ombudsman Service report for 2022, the two main activities carried out by the Ombudsman Service last year were the organization, together with members of the Press Council of the Republic of Moldova, of a meeting with news journalists from Moldova 1 on April 14 on the topic “Ethical journalism in times of crisis”, and the monitoring of Moldova 1’s news broadcast on the war in Ukraine for ten days, also in April.
The Teleradio-Moldova Ombudsman Service was set up in 2013 at the initiative of media NGOs. The service has the status of an autonomous entity and is a self-regulatory mechanism within the institution.
In 2023, The Broadcasting Council is expected to approve the methodology that will allow it to monitor hate speech in radio and TV programs, according to the institution’s recently released action plan. Although broadcasting law prohibits programs promoting such messages, expert monitoring shows that hate speech has increased in the past year since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, including on small screens.
The BC’s action plan for 2023 includes approval in the second quarter of the year of the Methodology for Monitoring Hate Speech in Audiovisual Media Content. “The importance of the methodology lies in its practical usefulness for the Broadcasting Council’s team of monitors. It is also important for publishers and editors, who will be able to see what the BC will pay attention to during the monitoring and, respectively, it is a guide for editors on how to make a journalistic product, what to include, and what to avoid”, said Liliana Vitu, president of the BC, for the IJC Mediacritica portal.
Asked when exactly the BC will be able to start monitoring hate speech on TV and radio, Vitu said that “the BC is already monitoring cases of hate speech when petitioned on this subject, but we do it without a methodology and we appeal to the advisory opinion of the Equality Council.”
In the first two months of the war in Ukraine, Promo-LEX identified 83 cases of hate speech in the public space in the Republic of Moldova, which showed how hate speech has become part of war propaganda.
After the Information and Security Service (ISS) requested the blocking of Sputnik.md on the morning of 26 February 2022, Sputnik Moldova announced on the same day that it had launched three other online portals – Md.sputniknews.com, Ru.md.sputniknews.com, and Ro.md.sputniknews.com – which are still accessible to the public in the Republic of Moldova.
In an official response to a request by the IJC Mediacritica portal, the ISS stated that “the only solution for websites with similar names (clones) on other domains is the systematic blocking of new websites created by network providers and/or electronic communication services.”
“Under the state of emergency, the ISS conducts activities in the media sphere only for the purpose of identifying and requesting the blocking of online sources promoting false news in the field affecting national security, as well as online sources that, through the messages they promote, incite hatred, mass disorder or war. After the expiry of the state of emergency, the ISS will have no legal powers in the online field and will therefore be left without legal cover to secure society from fake news. The activity will be reduced to criminal investigation only on some facts that will fall under the Criminal Code,” the ISS response said.
In this context, representatives of the Service recall the March 2022 decision of the Council of the European Union, which in the EU “prohibits operators from disseminating or enabling, facilitating or otherwise contributing to the dissemination of any content by legal persons, entities or bodies listed in Annex IX (RT – Russia Today in English, RT – Russia Today UK, RT – Russia Today Germany, RT – Russia Today France, RT – Russia Today Spanish, Sputnik), including by transmission or distribution via any means, such as cable, satellite, IP-TV, Internet service providers, Internet video-sharing platforms or applications, whether new or pre-installed.” However, not being part of the EU, the Republic of Moldova has a different system of law, which is linked to national legislation.
In 2022, ISS issued orders to block 12 online resources – the websites Vkurse.md, Ehomd.info, Sputnik.md, Gagauznews.md, Rta.md, Flux.md, Iurierosca.md, Rosca.md, Acasa-24.site, Moldnod.ru, Rusnod.ru, and Indigolotos.info. Two others were blocked in 2023: Eadaily.com and Bloknot.ru.
Valentina Ursu, formerly a broadcaster for Radio Free Europe, has been the sole owner of Vocea Media, which owns the Vocea Basarabia TV and radio stations since December 2022. The information was confirmed by the journalist for the portal Media Azi.
Vocea Media was registered in February 2017. Media Azi previously wrote, with reference to Anticoruptie.md, that in the same year, Vocea Media took over by assignment the license of the TV station Vocea Basarabiei and the radio station with the same name from Canal X, founded by the administrator Caravita, a company targeted in corruption cases related to bank fraud.
The company that took over the licenses was created just two weeks before the transfer application was submitted to the Broadcasting Council. In 2022, the media institution made several new hires and launched several new shows.
Valentina Ursu has been working at the Voice of Bessarabia since 2022, being the producer and moderator of the show “Points of Reflection” and the author of “La firul ierbii”. Previously, she worked for Radio Free Europe for 18 years.
The Russian-language weekly SP Balti stopped publishing its print version again earlier this year after returning to print in January 2021. The reason for the decision is a lack of financial resources, the newspaper’s founder and director Veaceslav Perunov told Media Azi.
SP Balti also stopped publishing the printed version in January 2020 due to a lack of funds. According to Veaceslav Perunov, the team subsequently obtained money for editing and publishing the newspaper from a grant from the European Endowment for Democracy, which has been exhausted, and the return to print depends on accessing new grants.
The director of SP Balti said that the newspaper had a circulation of 600 copies, aimed at older people who do not necessarily have the ability or opportunity to get information from online sources. “We have received many calls to the editorial office from our readers, who were deeply disappointed that they would no longer be able to receive the newspaper. Now we are waiting, if we are offered funding for another two years, we will return to print, otherwise – we will stay online only,” Perunov added.
In a summary of the falsehoods distributed both in the press and on social media since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the IJC portal Mediacritica looks back at the most widely distributed falsehoods about the war that have circulated in the public space and directly or indirectly targeted the Republic of Moldova.
Among them are rumors that appeared in the first days of the war that the Republic of Moldova is under siege and that mobilization has been ordered. The Ministry of Defense then denied this falsehood, urging the population to remain calm.
Another rumor that marked the first days after the invasion was that diplomatic missions in Moldova would be evacuated. The official Telegram channel First Source warned that this was a falsehood.
Several false narratives have been spread in the public space about Ukrainian refugees: “Each refugee will receive an allowance of 15,000 lei (video that circulated on social networks)”; “The government obliges citizens to donate one day’s salary to support Ukrainian refugees on the territory of the Republic of Moldova” and others, whose purpose was to create panic in society and incite hatred. The government produced reactions each time, and most media outlets covered these denials.
A whole string of misinformation came from the pro-Kremlin media, which predicted that Moldova would fall “into the abyss” without Russian gas. The pro-Russian press regularly published articles claiming that Moldova would fall into an “abyss” without energy imports from Russia and that joining an EU common procurement platform for fuel would nullify Moldovan sovereignty.
Similarly, during the year of the war, there were numerous manipulative fake stories in the media about Moldova’s rapprochement with the EU, with the EU allegedly making false promises and enslaving neighboring countries using Ukraine and Moldova as political tools, and Moldova’s candidate status being granted in exchange for joining EU sanctions against Russia.
Ten press freedom violations were recorded in the Republic of Moldova during 2022, out of a total of 813 violations in the EU Member States and candidate countries. The data was published earlier this year by the Media Freedom Rapid Response project team, designed to provide multilateral support to journalists and media employees.
According to the organization’s report, monitoring of Moldova began when it became a candidate country for EU membership in June 2022, and of Ukraine – when the war began. In the neighboring country, 140 press freedom violations were documented, representing 17.2% of the total number of countries covered in the research. At the same time, the study reveals that the 813 violations are nearly equally divided between EU member and candidate countries – 415 versus 398.
However, the report points out that in addition to journalists affected by the war, reporters in Europe have faced many forms of pressure and attacks in the past year, from threats or hacking of their phones to being targeted by lawsuits from private companies or being banned from press conferences, and even physical attacks and killings. The past year has seen an increase in online abuse of journalists, as well as the targeting of those writing on environmental issues.
The resignation of the Gavrilita government and President Maia Sandu’s announcement of a Russian plan to overthrow the government in Chisinau have been at the heart of a new disinformation campaign launched by pro-Kremlin media. Some of them have been debunked in the weekly EU vs Disinfo summary.
On February 11, Moldavskie Vedomosti published an article with the headline “Moldovan government replaced by order of State Department and Zelenski: Sandu ousted Gavrilita following Ukrainian service report,” which promotes the idea that the Moldovan government was replaced by order of the US State Department and Zelenski.
Meanwhile, News Front, a channel run by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), has joined the pro-Kremlin narrative by claiming in a February 14 article that Transnistria has been Russian from the start, labeling the region the first republic of Novorossiya. Moreover, the article promotes the message that “the Russian army must reach Transnistria to return Russian lands.”
These misleading claims are part of a wider Moscow approach of disinformation targeting the Republic of Moldova and attempts to undermine its sovereignty, EU vs Disinfo notes. Pro-Kremlin outlets consider Moldova part of a Russian zone of influence. They constantly accuse the current pro-European government in Chisinau of making people’s lives worse by refusing to ask Russia for better gas prices and for supporting Ukraine in the war.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the new document is needed to bring the legislation in line with the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents and international standards on transparency. It defines information of public interest and states that any natural or legal person has the right to access it without discrimination. There are also provisions for limiting access to information and for the protection of personal data. The draft law also includes a chapter on proactive transparency, obliging authorities to publish information about their work on their official websites and to respect deadlines for updating it. The draft is currently in the public endorsement and consultation stage, and the Ministry of Justice will adjust the text according to the objections and recommendations received.
Victor Kalughin, from the Justice Ministry’s Department for the Preparation of Legislation, told Media Azi that the first round of public consultation on the draft law has now been conducted and the opinions of public authorities and public associations have been received.
Some experts say that while a new document regulating the field was needed, the current text contains several gaps.
The Ombudsman’s office argues that the law requires further adjustments. These include the accessibility of information of public interest to people with disabilities, the disadvantaged, and linguistic minorities. Legal expert Tatiana Puiu welcomes the fact that “issues related to proactive transparency of the authorities have been clarified.”. Andrei Lutenco, program director at the Center for Policy and Reforms (CPR Moldova), lists among his objections the way decisions limiting access to information are challenged, referring to the fact that the draft law retains the existing mechanism for challenging decisions of information providers in the courts.
The Ministry of Justice will shortly adjust the draft law in line with the objections and recommendations submitted and will submit the draft for a second round of endorsement and public consultation. It would then be approved by the Government and registered in Parliament. The objective is also included in the work program of the Recean Government.
The case in which Jurnal TV’s administrator, Val Butnaru, was found guilty of libel and deprived of the right to hold TV and radio positions for half a year will be retried by the first instance. The Chisinau Court of Appeal allowed Val Butnaru’s appeal. The decision was taken by the magistrates on Tuesday, 21 February, according to Jurnal TV.
The appeals court decided that the case will be retried by the same court, but by a different panel of judges.
“We still consider that Val Butnaru is not guilty of any crime. The facts he is accused of are non-existent, the procedure for establishing this contravention was manifestly illegal,” Dumitru Pavel, the TV station’s lawyer, commented to Jurnal TV.
Media Azi previously wrote about the fact that in 2022, Val Butnaru was fined 4,500 lei (225 euros) and deprived of the right to hold positions of responsibility in audiovisual institutions for half a year after being accused of slander, by a decision of 26 July 2022 of the Chisinau Court.
The criminal proceedings were triggered after a former police officer, targeted in a Jurnal TV investigation, filed a complaint with the police. Vitalie Grabovschi accused Jurnal TV of spreading “false and defamatory information about the commission of a crime, thereby damaging his honor, personal dignity, and professional reputation.”
“Grabovschi is the former head of the Dubasari Police Inspectorate, targeted in a Jurnal TV investigation from July 2021, along with two other policemen, Ion Tarna and Alexei Vizdan, who are allegedly involved in cigarette smuggling. Citing a violation of Article 70 of the Contravention Code, the police officer recommended to the court to deprive our TV station of the right to operate for a period of one year,” Jurnal TV wrote at the time.
In July 2022, media organizations expressed concern about the Chisinau court’s ruling. “Depriving Jurnal TV’s administrator of the right to occupy positions of responsibility within a media institution is a serious and disproportionate measure, and the decision of the Chisinau Court sets a dangerous precedent for the freedom of the press,” according to the media NGOs’ statement. The organizations also called on law enforcement bodies dealing with libel cases “to stop the misuse of legal provisions as a weapon against freedom of expression of the media and to refrain from misinterpreting legislation in the future.”
At its meeting on February 3, the Broadcasting Council (BC) sanctioned REN Moldova TV channel with fines totaling 30,000 lei (1500 euro) and a public warning for several violations, following a self-report by BC Vice-President Aneta Gonta.
Thus, in the news bulletins broadcast between January 9 and 15, most subjects did not have the sources of the recordings indicated, for which REN Moldova was fined 5,000 lei. Also, the title of a news item in the January 9 program did not correspond to the picture. As a result, the TV station was publicly warned.
Another five fines of 5,000 lei (250 euro) were imposed on Teleproiect, the founder of REN Moldova, for interrupting the main evening news bulletin with advertising.
Gonta also pointed out that out of the 60 international news bulletins aired during the monitored period, not a single one referred to Ukraine, the Russian Federation, or Romania: “Not to refer in five news bulletins for a week to what is happening at the border with Moldova is a lack of correct information,” said BC Vice-President.
At the beginning of February, the magistrates of the Chisinau Court, Riscani headquarters, rejected unfounded applications by the TV stations NTV Moldova and RTR Moldova to annul fines imposed by the BC nearly a year ago.
The decision to reject the application filed by Exclusiv Media, owner of NTV Moldova, was taken by magistrates on February 10. The complaint concerns monitoring ordered by the BC in February 2022, when the authority decided to monitor all broadcasts of several TV stations, including NTV Moldova, broadcast from 8pm on February 21 until 10pm on February 22, i.e., for 26 hours. The initiative was aimed at the security crisis in the region.
The results of the monitoring, examined on March 11 last year, showed that NTV Moldova had committed several breaches of the Audiovisual Media Services Code. For example, the program “Сегодня” (Russian for “Today”) broadcast from the Russian Federation on February 21 included two items reflecting the security crisis in the region, followed by the full prime-time broadcast of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech on the reasons for recognizing the independence of the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. The topics were presented one-sidedly, with a lack of balance of opinion and a call for other positions. The news bulletins also failed to reflect the security crisis in the region. NTV Moldova was sanctioned with two fines of 10,000 lei each (500 euros).
The other case also relates to monitoring initiated by the BC during the state of emergency, when the BC ordered the monitoring of several news bulletins of the RTR Moldova channel in different time slots from February 6-22, 2022. In a decision on March 17, the broadcaster was penalized 20,000 lei (1,000 euros) for failing to submit recordings requested by the BC and for repeated violations of the provisions of the audiovisual law. The decision, challenged by the company that owns RTR Moldova, TV-Comunicatii Grup, was rejected by judges on February 9.
BC members have decided to stop broadcasting RU-TV Moldova from February 24. At the same time, the BC penalized the provider of this media service 30,000 lei (1,500 euros) for operating without a broadcasting license since May 14 last year.
According to a press release, the company Euroshow Grup was fined 15,000 lei (750 euros) on October 28 for violating the same provision. Media Azi wrote at the time that the derogations from the legislation were detected following a self-report by BC member Ruslan Mihalevschi. In addition, contrary to the Council’s decision at the time, which ordered the cessation of broadcasting, RU-TV Moldova continued to be broadcast without a license, a fact confirmed by twelve media service distributors.
Thus, the members of the BC ordered the media service distributors to cease the retransmission of RU-TV Moldova.
At its meeting on February 10, the Broadcasting Council imposed sanctions totaling 32,500 lei (1,625 euros) on the TV stations Sor TV, Albasat 12, Bas TV, 10 TV, Axial TV, and Canal Regional for violating the legal requirement to standardize the sound level of broadcasts with that of commercial communications.
In monitoring the content of ten TV stations on October 27, 29, and 31 at different time intervals, the BC found that four of them – Channel 2, Channel 3, Channel 5, and Cinema 1 – had no violations. A record number of sound violations during the broadcast of advertising – 26 in number – had Channel 10 TV, which was fined 7,500 lei (375 euros). The other five channels monitored were fined 5,000 lei each (250 euros).
Axial TV, which had only one violation, was sanctioned for not being treated preferentially compared to other precedents of this kind, where penalties were applied. BC member Eugeniu Ribca found this measure to be disproportionate.
During the past year, the BC has imposed fines of 64,000 lei (3,200 euros) for advertising with increased sound levels.
TV channels TV8, Moldova 1, and Pro TV Chisinau have been publicly warned by the BC for the way they treated the subject of child abuse in their main news bulletins on January 24, 2023.
The members of the BC found that the TV media services did not comply with the provisions of Article 15 of the Code of Audiovisual Media Services of the Republic of Moldova (CSMA). More specifically, they did not consider respect for the principle of the best interests of the child and insufficiently blurred video images and soundtrack, which made it possible to identify the minors involved in the conflict. According to the BC, the presence of children’s voices can be recognized and, in such matters, the minor has the right to the protection of his/her image and privacy.
The BC imposed 120 sanctions last year for insufficient local programs and programs in Romanian on radio and TV stations or broadcasting them at times other than prime time. The total amount of the fines amounted to 971,000 lei (48,550 euros), which is 41.5% of the total sanctions applied by the institution in 2022, a press release from the authority said.
According to the data, the fines concern 53 audiovisual media service providers.
To ensure fair competition in the audiovisual market, the new composition of the BC ordered, in 2022, to monitor all providers of television and radio media services on compliance with the provisions on local audiovisual programs. The monitoring of all TV and radio stations in this respect was the first of its kind since the entry into force of the Audiovisual Media Services Code in 2019.
The TV channels targeted by the sanctions include Publika TV, Orizont TV, TVC 21, Bravo TV, Zona M, Pro TV Chisinau, Canal Regional, Cotidianul TV-CTV, Accent TV, Orhei TV, Canal 5, N4, Familia, Canal 2, Primul in Moldova, Mega TV, PEH TV, Canal 3, Cinema 1, RTR Moldova, ITV, TV Gagauzia, and Moldova 2. There were 94 sanctions imposed on audiovisual television media service providers: 76 fines and 18 public warnings. Audiovisual media service providers of radio broadcasting were issued 26 public warnings.
Radio and TV stations were fined a total of 320,000 lei (16,000 euros) in 2022 for failing to provide correct information to citizens, as required by the Audiovisual Media Services Code. The data are contained in the annual report of the Broadcasting Council.
In 2022, the BC examined a total of 262 monitoring reports on audiovisual content to ensure control over the correct information of citizens. Respectively, the BC members imposed 95 sanctions, including 62 warnings and 33 fines, totaling 320,000 lei, for violations of Article 13 of the Code.
Concerning the coverage of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the security crisis in the region, 19 audiovisual media services were monitored, and the members of the BC sanctioned nine of them – seven TV and two radio stations – for not providing correct information, violating the principles of good faith, impartiality, the balance of opinions, separation of facts from opinions. According to the BC report, NTV Moldova, Primul in Moldova, RTR Moldova, Orhei TV, and TV6 “portrayed the Ukrainian state in an extremely negative light, and the Russian leadership in a positive light, and some of them omitted the course of the war from their news bulletins.”
As a result of this monitoring, the BC imposed 65 sanctions, including 25 fines and 40 public warnings, the total amount of fines being 213,000 lei (11,000 euros).
Since the recent launch of ChatGPT, millions of people have been able to use this tool developed by an artificial intelligence research lab, OpenAI. The February edition of the Media Azi
show seeks to answer the question of how artificial intelligence can help solve the human resource crisis facing many newsrooms in Moldova. Journalist Anastasia Nani discussed the topic with IT entrepreneur Vitalie Esanu.
Is the Republic of Moldova involved in a hybrid war? How does this phenomenon manifest itself in our country, what methods are used and who is the target? These and other questions were answered by Mihai Mogildea, Deputy Director of the Institute for European Policies and Reforms.
According to the guest, the target of a hybrid war is a victim state, which is in the sights of another aggressor state, and the latter uses all methods to weaken its fighting capacity.
The methods can be different – cyber-attacks, disinformation, cuts in energy, gas, and electricity supplies, and funding of political parties which, through elections could take power and respond to the aggressor state’s orders.
“In the case of the Republic of Moldova, to be more precise, we are talking about an aggressor state at present, which is Russia, and a victim state, which is the Republic of Moldova.”
Mihai Mogildea believes that the government has all the tools to fight the hybrid war. These are informing citizens about the dangers of hybrid warfare and fighting disinformation and fake news. As examples of concrete actions taken by the state, the guest referred to the fact that news and analytical programs from the Russian Federation are no longer broadcast in Moldova. Much higher fines have also been set for potential attempts to promote fake news. And six TV channels that were controlled by oligarchs, former politicians, and good friends of the Russian Federation, were shut down during the state of emergency.
In conclusion, Mihai Mogildea argues that to clear the information space of the elements of hybrid warfare, ordinary citizens must be well informed, as they are the target of hybrid warfare.
The cuMINTE podcast is produced by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) within the project “Promoting media literacy among media consumers through quality media content” that is being implemented in the period November 2022-March 2023 and supported by the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR). The views expressed in this material do not necessarily represent those of the IWPR or its partners.
|The IJC announced the results of the competition on February 11, when it invited fifteen young men and women from across the country to Chisinau to assess their skills in three rounds. They gave the best answers to questions about the content of the cuMINTE podcast: What is critical thinking and how does it help us in our daily lives; Why is it important to get information from various sources; What is the cuMINTE podcast and what does it offer to those who listen to it. In the third stage, participants prepared a speech arguing why young people should listen to the cuMINTE Podcast.|
In the end, the jury chose three winners who received a laptop as a prize: They are Georgeta Nicoara, a 12th-grade student at Theoretical High School “Olimp” (village Puhaceni, Anenii Noi); Sofia Bondarenco, a ninth grader at Theatrical Gymnasium “Ion Luca Caragiale” (mun. Chisinau) and Silvia Iurcu, a twelfth grader at Theoretical High School “Gheorghe Palade” (village Puhoi, Ialoveni).
“I learned so many new things at this contest, and I recommend the cuMINTE Podcast to everyone because it helps us to filter with a clear mind. An informed man is a protected man,” said one of the winners, Silvia Iurcu.
Ina Grejdeanu, Director of Strategic Development at the IJC, came with a plea to the participants: “The cuMINTE Podcast came about in a pandemic, out of a desire to diversify media education resources and make them accessible to media consumers. The pandemic has passed, but in the meantime, we are witnessing events that show us that we need to think critically all the time. That’s why I urge you to be mindful,” she said.
CuMINTE podcast is the first media education podcast in the country, launched by the IJC in 2020. The makers have set out to guide audiences through all things misinformation, manipulation, and fake news.
The contest is conducted by the Independent Journalism Center as part of the project “Promoting media literacy among citizens through quality media content”, implemented from November 2022 to March 2023, with the support of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).
IJC and Internews Updates
|The legal environment in which the Moldovan media has operated has been uncertain for many years, and several long-standing legislative shortcomings have not been fully addressed, according to the research “Evaluation of the legal framework regulating media activity in the Republic of Moldova,” published by the IJC on February 27.|
The analysis highlights the insufficiency or segmented sufficiency of the regulatory framework for media activity, as well as the quality index of legislation, compared to international and EU standards.
The document is a continuation of the analytical approach implemented by the IJC in 2018 when the first X-ray of the media regulatory framework was published.
The 2023 analysis shows, inter alia, that the main shortcomings of media legislation concern the ineffectiveness of the Law on Access to Information, the lack of regulation of online media, the insufficiency and ineffectiveness of regulation of the legal regime of media ownership, the lack of established media support measures, and the superficiality of compliance.
However, it is worth noting that the national legal framework has also undergone beneficial changes in the last two years, with new, albeit few, but necessary regulations for media activity.
The IJC produces a series of conclusions and recommendations for the authorities, aimed at completing and improving the legal framework so that it meets the needs of media institutions and journalists in the Republic of Moldova.
This report was conducted by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) as part of the “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M) project, funded by USAID and the UK and implemented by Internews in Moldova, which aims to promote the development of independent and professional media and create a media sector more resilient to political and economic pressures.
|On February 1, 2023 on the stage of the Municipal Puppet Theatre “Guguta” in Chisinau, the show PikPok.online@guguta, staged in Russian, was launched. The show was produced in collaboration with the IJC and the Talinka Association. The first spectators were about 250 primary school pupils from several Russian-language high schools in the capital.|
The play is an adaptation of the educational story “A Click of the Fangs or the Manipulating Wolf,” written by Latvian media researcher Solvita Denisa Liepniece.
Attending the launch event, IJC executive director Nadine Gogu drew attention to the fact that children, like adults, are exposed to a lot of information daily, especially via TV and online. “It is very important that young children, from an early age, can correctly understand information, analyze and compare what they see, hear or read,” stressed the IJC Executive Director. The show will help children to develop critical thinking so that they do not fall prey to misinformation and propaganda of any kind.
According to Gabriela Lungu, artistic director of the “Guguta” Municipal Puppet Theatre, the show is an absolute first, as the theatre has never staged a performance in Russian before. “We, at the theatre, are concerned with educating the new generations and we believe that topical issues should be brought to the theatre,” said Gabriela Lungu.
The performance, which is aimed at kindergarten and primary school children, lasts 45 minutes and has been included in the repertoire of the “Guguta” Theatre, both in Russian and Romanian.
The Russian-language PikPok.online@guguta was staged as part of the project “Boosting Support to Russian-language independent media and media literacy efforts: Phase II” implemented by Internews in Moldova. This project is funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Chisinau.
|After last week’s launch of the Russian-language PikPok.online@guguta show on the stage of the Municipal Puppet Theatre “Guguta,” it is now also available in video format for Russian-speaking young viewers throughout Moldova. The show was produced by the “Guguta” Theatre in cooperation with the IJC and the “Talinka” Association.|
The first viewers of this educational video story were students from several Russian-language schools in the country, who watched the show as part of their media education classes.
The IJC urged teachers in Russian-language schools to watch the story with their students to help them better understand how the virtual environment works and why they need to be careful about the information they consume.
The video version of PikPok.online@guguta, in Russian, was made within the project “Boosting Support to Russian-language independent media and media literacy efforts: Phase II” implemented by Internews in Moldova. This project is funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Chisinau.