European Commission says that in the coming year, the country should work to protect journalists more effectively against intimidation and attacks, including through law enforcement investigations; strengthen the transparency requirements for the print and online media ownership; and improve media self-regulation mechanisms. The EU Progress Report recommendations are made public in early November as the European Commission recommended to open the accession negotiation with Moldova.
The report finds that our country has made some progress for the reporting period, in particular on the issue of ensuring transparency media ownership. However, it notes that the legislation on audiovisual media services is not aligned with the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and the Council of Europe’s regulatory standards. The report states that: “Moldova needs to align its legal framework with the Electronic Communications Code, and EU best practices in the media field need to be strengthened. Including laws on freedom of expression, personal data protection and access to information need to be amended to align with the EU acquis”.
Ministry of Culture will take over responsibility for ensuring coordination of media policies. Thus, a Directorate for Media Policy will be established within the Ministry of Culture. The initiative is part of the action plan on the implementation of the conditions set by the European Commission on the process of Moldova’s accession to the EU. This unit will have composed of four public employees.
At the same time, the authorities intend to create an institutionally autonomous fund partly financed from the state budget, through which projects and products developed by the media outlets would be financially supported. The fund would be administered by a board under the competence of the Ministry of Culture which is elected by the representatives of media organizations.
In the last two weeks, 51 websites have been blocked for “altering the information space” of the Republic of Moldova. Subsequently, some of the blocked sites have created “clones” accessible to the public. Alexandru Musteata, director of the Security and Intelligence Service, says that the obligation to block these web pages as provided by SIS in the list of online sources promoting fake news, as well as online sources that promote messages inciting hatred, mass disorder or war propaganda lies with the providers of the network and/or electronic communication services. In a press conference held in early November, the head of SIS gave assurances that specialists in the field are identifying the “cloned” websites and will take actions against all online resources promoting fake news capable of affecting national security.
OSCE on suspension of TV licenses: “It does not appear to constitute a proportionate restriction of freedom of expression”
Suspension of the licenses of six more TV stations in the Republic of Moldova does not appear to be a proportionate restriction of freedom of expression, especially as the Audiovisual Council has not previously rendered sanctions on misinformation actions by these TV stations.
The preliminary conclusions of the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM), held on 5 November notes that, under international law, misinformation or false information do not constitute legitimate grounds for restricting freedom of expression as long as they do not promote hatred, which constitutes incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination.
The decision to suspend the licenses of Orizont TV, ITV, Prime TV, Publika TV, Channel 2 and Channel 3 was taken by the Commission for Exceptional Situations on the recommendation of the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) on the grounds that they “promote foreign interests”. The initiative has sparked critical reactions from several media NGOs and civil society organizations, as well as from the People’s Advocate, Mr. Ceslav Panico.
More than 150 participants are expected to attend this year’s Media Forum on the 4th – 5th of December. Journalists, editors, media managers, as well as representatives of media organizations and associations, advertising agencies and academia are invited to attend.
Among other issues in the forum will be discussed the state of the country’s media, public trust of the press and the harmful influence of misinformation on democracy. Workshops will address topical issues such as the costs of editorial independence and the tools of artificial intelligence. They will be facilitated by experts from Lithuania, USA, Romania, and Germany.
The Media Forum is organized annually by the Press Council in partnership with the Independent Press Association, the Independent Journalism Center and the Electronic Press Association. The eighth edition is supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for South East Europe (Germany), the Soros Foundation Moldova and the DW Akademie.
Maria Sleahtitchi is the new member of the Supervisory and Development Council of the public broadcaster Teleradio-Moldova. Her candidacy was decreed by the Parliament this 9th of November.
Maria Sleahtitchi is a university lecturer and writer. Since 2019 she has been the director of the National Museum of Romanian Literature.
The position of member of the TRM’s Supervisory and Development Council remained vacant after the departure of Cristian Jardan.
Temporarily displaced media professionals from Ukraine broadcast programs for and with refugees at TRM
Moldova currently hosts nearly 120,000 refugees from Ukraine. There has been an ongoing demand for reliable and relevant information for forcibly displaced people from the neighboring country. The UNESCO project “Support for Ukrainian refugees through the media” helps to integrate refugee media professionals in Moldova and their views through broadcasting programs in the host country.
Together with refugee journalists, Teleradio-Moldova creates and broadcasts programs on key topics of interest to this community.
Jurnal TV forced by the first instance court to accept that it has broadcasted false information about businessman Corneliu Turcanu
Jurnal TV has been ordered by the first instance court to deny the information broadcasted two years ago about Corneliu Turcanu, a wine businessman. The ruling, issued on 21 November, also obliges the media provider to pay the claimant the sum of 15,000 lei (€750) on moral damages.
Corneliu Turcanu complained to the court after a report was aired on the news bulletin “Jurnalul orei 19.00” on 26 February 2021, claiming that he had contributed to the embezzlement of the banking system, an operation known as the “theft of the century”.
Following his complaint in defense of his honor, dignity and professional reputation, the Chisinau Court ordered the TV station to declare that it had “admitted the exposure of false information, without verifying it, thus further contributing to the smearing of Mr. Corneliu’s image”.
The claim was partially accepted by the court on the decision made on the 21st of November.
Timpul.md also wins in the court of appeal the dispute initiated by Andrei Pavaloi for alleged defamation
The Chisinau Court of Appeal recently dismissed the appeal of the acting head of the Directorate of Education, Youth and Sport (DGETS) of the Chisinau municipality, Andrei Pavaloi, against the decision by which the Chisinau Court declared as unfounded the claims filed by the official against the editorial staff of the newspaper Timpul.md. The dispute initiated concerns an article published in December 2020 by the latter media.
The judgment challenged by Andrei Pavaloi was issued on 21 December 2022, after the magistrates of the Chisinau Court, Centre seat, examined the complaint of the acting head of DGETS on the article entitled “The problem of poisoning children in kindergartens and schools in the capital is growing, and Ivan Ceban is suspected of covering it up”.
Andrei Pavaloi’s appeal against the decision of the Chisinau court was rejected by the appeal court on 1 November.
Third IJC report on the local election campaign: most broadcasters gave relatively equal access to candidates in elections
Most TV channels gave relatively equal access to candidates in the elections, who were mostly fairly and equally covered in election news. Several broadcasters covered the work of the central government representatives extensively, usually in a positive context, according to the third media monitoring report on the campaign for the 5th of November 2023 general local elections, released by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) on Wednesday 8 November.
From 24 October to 4 November 2023, the IJC continued to monitor the main news bulletins of ten TV stations: Moldova 1, TVR Moldova, Jurnal TV, Pro TV Chisinau, TV8, Cinema 1, ITV Moldova, Orizont TV, Vocea Basarabiei TV and Exclusiv TV. This was the monitoring report that IJC conducted during the electoral campaign for the general local elections.
The IJC recommends broadcasters to use monitoring reports as self-regulatory tools and to eliminate shortcomings so that their work complies with the legal rules and the Code of Ethics of Journalists. At the same time, the IJC recommends that the Audiovisual Council use the monitoring reports to self-examine and assess whether the broadcasters concerned have respected the right of citizens to full, objective and truthful information and the right of electoral contestants to equal access to the media.
ProTV Chisinau, sanctioned for broadcasting the case of a minor victim of bullying after the petitioners’ reaction
The Audiovisual Council (AC) fined ProTV Chisinau 10,000 lei (500 euros) at its meeting on 24 November for failing to respect the principle of the best interests of the child during the broadcast of “A Perfect Evening”. The decision was taken following a petition from the National Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse (CNPAC). The 19 October edition of the program concerned discussed the case of a 12-year-old girl who was the victim of bullying at school. The report included personal data, including clear pictures, name, surname, town and other details, thus facilitating possible identification of the girl. Although the parents and the minor agreed to appear on the program, the AC’s review found that the program did not respect the principles of protecting the minor. In the meantime, the report has been removed from the Perfecte.md website and the official Facebook page of the show “A Perfect Evening”.
On 17th of November, the Audiovisual Council (AC), refused to extend the broadcasting license of TV8 for “non-compliance with the program concept”. The decision was voted by four out of five members present at the meeting. The TV station’s license expires on February 2024.
The media service provider AO Media Alternativa, the owner of TV8, requested an extension of the broadcasting license on the request dated 3 November. At the meeting, the AC rapporteur on the subject noted that TV8 had previously been fined 5,000 lei (250 euro) for failure to comply with the general concept of audiovisual media service, that the application was in line with the deadlines and that the broadcaster had not been
sanctioned in the past for serious violations. However, given that the station admitted deviations from the general concept, the members of the AC decided not to extend its license.
This does not amount to withdrawal or suspension of the broadcasting license, the Independent Journalism Center says in a Press Lawyer column. If the application to extend the validity of the broadcasting license has been rejected by the AC, the frequency or channel is put up for tender after the expiry of the period for which the license was granted. In other words, the TV station concerned will be able to “regain” its license in a later date, following a competition.
The seventh edition of the International World Press Photo exhibition was launched in Chisinau on 15 November at the National History Museum. This year, the exhibition is opened for the first time in Comrat, in the local State University, from 23rd of November to 13th of December 2023.
The two exhibitions are organized by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) and Piko Creative Agency, with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Chisinau.
The launch, traditionally held under the title “Stories that matter”, was attended by representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Chisinau, journalists, photographers and students.
Maaike Keizer, Deputy Head of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Chisinau, appreciated the fact that for seven years the Moldovan public has been able to enjoy the presence of this world-renowned exhibition. The coordinator of the World Press Photo Exhibition, the Netherlands, Mariana Rettore Baptista, made an online intervention in which she highlighted that this competition is aimed at professional press photographers from all over the world. Nadine Gogu, Executive Director of the Independent Journalism Center (IJC), stressed the importance of visual journalism in communication, including online communication.
The exhibition is organized by the World Press Photo Foundation of the Netherlands, in partnership with the Independent Journalism Center and Piko Creative Agency, with the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Chisinau.
15 community mediators from different parts of the country participated in a media literacy workshop where they learned how to recognize disinformation and manipulation in the public space. The event was organized by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) on 28 November 2023.
The trainers of the workshop, Dr. in philology Loretta Handrabura, co-author of the Media Literacy manuals, and journalist Galina Vasilieva, editor-in-chief of the online publication NewsMaker.md, familiarized community mediators with general notions in the media field, advising them to reflect on their own media experience as consumers and content creators.
The workshop participants appreciated the value of the information provided, realizing how important it is to be informed by reliable sources, to verify the information and distribute it only when we are convinced of its veracity.
The event was held in partnership with the National Association of Community Mediators (ANMC).
The media literacy workshop was organized in the framework of the project “Promoting Social Cohesion in Moldova by Fostering Inclusion and Diminishing Discrimination” carried out by the Independent Journalism Center in the framework of the program “Joint Equal Opportunities Initiative – Phase II”, implemented with the support of the Government of Switzerland.
The IJC continued to develop the media skills of teachers integrating media education content into Romanian language
The Independent Journalism Center in partnership with DW Akademie, organized a new training for teachers from 11 educational institutions, which in the academic year 2023-2024 are implementing the program on integrating media literacy content into the Romanian language in grade 6. The training took place in Chisinau on the 24th – 26th of November 2023, in agreement with the Ministry of Education and Research of the Republic of Moldova. According to Cristina Leva, DW Akademie’s project officer in the Republic of Moldova, the aim of the second training program is to develop the media skills of the teachers involved in the implementation of this program and encourage them to apply new techniques and methods of interactive teaching in the educational process. The participants were trained by trainer Natalia Griu and the manager of Media Education project in Lithuania, Arminas Varanauskas.
The first training in the frame of the Program on the integration of media education content in the Romanian language offered in the 6th grade was organized during 8th to10th September 2023.
The training program is part of the project “Strengthening Media Education Skills in the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by the IJC and the Ministry of Education and Research, supported by Deutsche Welle Akademie and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
In the November edition of the cuMINTE Podcast, the authors of the podcast offer advice on how we should identify the falsehood news and not to be manipulated by them. The podcast was organized in the realm of the development of information technologies, the involvement of artificial intelligence in practically every area of our lives, new techniques for spreading disinformation have also emerged. Some of the questions answered in the podcast were related to: What is a bot and how can it be used as a disinformation tool? What is conspiracy theory? How does another disinformation technique, known as microtargeting, work on social media? How can we not be manipulated by astroturfing, which aims to create a false impression that a certain opinion is popular among people? And, last but not least, what do we know about artificial intelligence photos, as disinformation tools?
The cuMINTE podcast is produced by the Independent Journalism Center with support from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).The views expressed in this material do not necessarily represent those of IWPR or its partners.
The Executive Director of the Independent Journalism Center of Moldova (IJC), Nadine Gogu, analyzes in the Media Azi portal the IJC’s monitoring of election campaigns. The IJC, under the umbrella of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (CALC), has been actively involved in this work since 2005, encouraging the media to cover campaigns fairly and accurately. “As we moved forward with campaigns and monitoring, judging by the reactions that followed, we understood that our reports matter and could make a difference, even if initially they seemed to be ignored by some of the media and by the Audiovisual Authority,” writes Nadine Gogu.
Over the past 18 years, the IJC team has monitored the media using a variety of methodologies, but regardless of the type of methodology used, several mandatory criteria have been taken into account: ensuring impartiality and objectivity and not allowing political partisanship; ensuring pluralism of opinion and balance of sources; using language and video images that comply with journalistic rigor.
With reference to the recent election campaign for the general local elections, the author notes that, in general, all 10 broadcasters monitored committed some deviations from the legal and ethical provisions. These included shifting the focus by selecting details included in the news, failing to separate facts from opinions, publishing unverified information, bias and partiality towards electoral contestants.
Also, in the process of documenting the news, several channels broadcasted the news without carefully selecting the sources and/or images and without making additional efforts to verify the facts. According to the author of the report, this is also a deviation from the Code of Ethics, which urges us to thoroughly check sources and ensure their authenticity, and from the Audiovisual Media Services Code (Article 13), which says that information must be verified and presented impartially and in good faith.
The production of this material was made possible by the generous support of the American and British people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UK. The content is the responsibility of the Independent Journalism Center and does not necessarily reflect the views of UK, USAID or the United States Government
Journalist Viorica Zaharia, president of the Press Council of the Republic of Moldova, tackles a topical issue: some current or former journalists have created their own platforms in parallel, but place content on them that is less in line with professional journalism. However, people continue to perceive them as journalists and therefore expect a minimum respect for ethics. According to the author, newsrooms should ask employees who have individual YouTube channels or other platforms where they place content to respect ethics or even editorial policy there, as they also represent the image of the newsroom. The world’s major newsrooms can act as a good model for the local newsrooms where the editorial policy and conduct rules are made public.
The production of this material was made possible by the generous support of the American and British people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UK. The content is the responsibility of the Independent Journalism Center and does not necessarily reflect the views of UK, USAID or the United States Government.
Media Monitoring: New narrative in Moldova’s press, element of hybrid war: ‘People no longer want the EU where the government is taking them by force’
During November, a new narrative began to emerge in the pro-Kremlin media: people of Moldova no longer want to be in the European Union, and they are being taken almost by force by the current government, and even less do they want to be in NATO, even though the government is militarizing the country “by force”. As an alternative, the people want the Eurasian Union and cooperation with the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). This message appears repeatedly in the Russian media, eagerly picked up by clones of banned portals, but also by some of the national and Gagauz media. The narrative is dangerous especially in the context of Moldova’s commitment to join the European Union.
The analysis was developed within the project “Strengthening society’s resilience to disinformation through professional media content and innovative tools”, implemented by the Independent Journalism Centre with the support of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), from August 2023 to February 2024.
IJC and Internews Updates
The Independent Journalism Center (IJC) has invited media outlets in Moldova to participate in a competition in which up to five newsrooms will receive grants of US$1,500 each. By awarding small grants, the organization aims to help manage the human resources crisis in the media. The grants will enable media outlets to invite journalism students or people interested in journalism internships. Newsrooms will be responsible for selecting interns according to their specific needs. The internship period suggested by the IJC is 1-3 months and subsequent employment of interns is at the discretion of each newsroom. The grants offered by the IJC will cover internships as well as mentoring by the editorial offices.
The grant competition is launched as part of the USAID and UK funded project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M) and implemented by Internews in Moldova, which aims to promote the development of an independent, professional media, and to create a media sector that is more resilient to political and financial pressures.