Monthly Bulletin, October 2021

 

 

 

Media NGOs concerned about provisions of draft law amending  Audiovisual Media Services Code

 

 

 

Seven media NGOs, including the Independent Journalism Centre, have expressed concerns about a draft amendment to the Audiovisual Media Services Code (AMSC), which was registered in Parliament on October 14, 2021. Among other things, MPs want to establish legal mechanisms for appointing, managing, and removing members of the Broadcasting Council (BC) and the supervisory and management bodies of Teleradio Moldova (TRM), should they perform unsatisfactory work. At the same time, the authors of the draft law propose to change the mechanism for appointing members of the Supervisory Board (SB) of TRM.
In a joint statement, the media NGOs argue that such practices, which have been used previously in the national public broadcasting sphere, have led to the significant subordination of the TRM to the ruling political powers. This politicization of the broadcasting space led the European Court of Human Rights to condemn to Moldova for violating Article 10 of the Convention. The signatories warn, among other things, that in the absence of clear criteria, the proposed changes allow for political forces in government to interfere in the TRM’s work and distance the provider from its primary objective to serve the public interest.

 

 

 

Dodon’s money in the Bahamas’ investigation. ECHR condemns Moldova for violation of freedom of expression in RISE Moldova case

 

 

 

The ECHR has condemned Moldova in an October 12 decision for violating freedom of expression in the case of RISE Moldova and Iurie Sanduta v. Republic of Moldova.
The journalistic investigation, published in September 2016, concerned an offshore transaction involving the company Exclusiv Media, which was managed by socialist MP Corneliu Furculita. According to the investigation, more than 30 million lei (1,475,746 euro) were transferred through this company to Moldova a few months before the presidential election in October 2016. The transfer involved an offshore company (with ties to the Russian Federation) registered in the Bahamas – a notorious tax haven.
After the publication of the RISE Moldova investigation, representatives of the Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and Exclusiv Media sued the journalists and demanded a retraction, claiming that they were the victims of defamation.
The ECHR judges ruled in favor of RISE Moldova and investigative journalist Iurie Sanduta, author of the investigation “Dodon’s money in the Bahamas.”
The decision of the European Court of Human Rights calls for the state of Moldova to provide compensation to the sum of €3,800 to RISE Moldova journalists for using national courts to obstruct their freedom of expression.

 

 

 

Journalists’ crisis cell // Communication between the authorities and the media discussed at an informal meeting between journalists and government representatives

 

 

 

Several journalists met on October 7 with representatives of government press services, ministries, and other executive branch institutions. During the informal event, journalists discussed issues related to facilitating communication between authorities and the media.
The meeting was organized under the initiative Journalists’ Crisis Cell, which was launched by the IJC after several media representatives asked to talk to government spokespersons about improving lines of communication. Executive officials urged journalists to come up with recommendations on how the central government should communicate with the media.
The event was attended by about 25 people, including spokespersons and journalists from about 15 newsrooms.
The IJC launched the Journalists’ Crisis Cell in early April 2020 in the context of the state of emergency following the Covid-19 pandemic, which exacerbated problems related to the lack of transparency and restricted access to information of public interest.

 

 

 

State of emergency in energy sector: ISS has requested blocking of  Ukrainian website allegedly distributing false information about the energy crisis

 

 

 

The Information and Security Service (ISS) has requested the blocking of the website Censor.net, which allegedly distributed false news about the conditions under which Ukraine is supplying natural gas to Moldova. The order, signed by ISS Director Alexandr Esaulenco, was approved on October 23 based on a provision of the Committee on Exceptional Situations. This occurred as Parliament declared an Emergency Situation.
In a press release, the ISS refers to the following excerpt from the article: “The gas deal for Moldova is part of a deal, according to which the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Moldova must close the case on the kidnapping of former Judge Ceaus”. As the news agency “Komsomolskaia Pravda” (www.kp.md) distributed the article, the ISS has requested the removal of the content from all online resources that have picked it up.

 

 

 

PAS wants to bring Teleradio-Moldova back under parliamentary control. The mandate of TRM heads and members of Supervisory Council could end once the initiative comes into force

 

 

 

The term of office of the current members (director general and deputies) of the Supervisory Council (SC) of TRM could automatically end when several amendments to the Audiovisual Media Services Code – proposed by Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) MPs in a draft law – come into force. The amendments concern, among other things, the establishment of a parliamentary oversight mechanism over the TRM and the election of members of the TRM SC and the BC.
A group of PAS MPS presented the draft law at an October 18 press briefing. According to the authors, the new provisions “will promote the accountability of the national public media service provider, Teleradio-Moldova.” Liliana Nicolaescu-Onofrei, Chairwoman of the parliamentary committee, said that the changes also concern the revision of the mechanism for determining the board of directors.

 

 

 

Reaction of Broadcasting Council to new draft law on accountability of TRM and BC: “The audiovisual sector is being undermined!”

 

 

 

Several BC members have expressed their disagreement with the October 21 draft law on the establishment of parliamentary control over TRM and the adoption of new mechanisms for the removal from office of the public company’s management and BC members. Some board members argued that such changes would “undermine broadcasting.”
In the opinion of BC Chairwoman Ala Ursu-Antoci, “this is a very serious attack on media independence. It establishes political control over the only regulatory institution and the only national media service provider. It is political control and political subordination”.
Other BC members were also critical of the draft law. Iulian Rosca described the legislative initiative as another attempt by Parliament “to undermine the audiovisual sector”, and Corneliu Mihalache assumed that one of the aims of the initiative would be to withdraw the broadcasting license of certain TV channels by disbanding and appointing new members to the BC.

 

 

 

Parliamentary Committee on the Media has repealed competition for  selection of candidates for membership in the Broadcasting Council

 

 

 

At an October 19 meeting, the Parliamentary Committee on Culture, Education, Research, Youth, Sport, and the Media repealed the decision related to the competition for the selection of candidates for BC membership. The deputies cited the draft law bringing Teleradio-Moldova back under parliamentary control, which provides for a different numerical composition of the BC and a different mechanism for appointing members, as justification for this repeal. Earlier, the committee announced that Victoria Stetcaia, Eugeniu Ribca, and Ion Terguta are the candidates proposed by civil society organizations for membership on the board. The three were to compete for two vacancies.
However, on October 14, a group of PAS MPs registered a draft amendment to the Audiovisual Media Services Code that would reduce the number of BC members from nine to seven. Currently, the BC is composed of two members proposed by Parliament, one member each proposed by the President and the government, and five members proposed by civil society organizations and selected through a public competition. The new formula stipulates that the audiovisual regulatory authority will be made up of three members proposed by parliamentary factions (keeping in mind the proportional representation of the majority and the parliamentary opposition), one member each proposed by the government and the Head of State, and two members proposed by civil society organizations covering audiovisual media issues.

 

 

 

The BC has announced new competition to fill two vacancies on TRM’s Supervisory Council

 

 

 

The BC announced at its October 22 meeting a new competition to fill two vacancies on TRM’s SC. The decision was adopted in parallel to Parliament’s vote on a draft law in its first reading, which provides that the mandate of the current SC members (the general director and the TRM deputies) will automatically cease upon the entry into force of the law.
BC Chairwoman Ala Ursu-Antoci said that authorities must follow the procedure, even though the legislature voted in its first reading on the draft law related to the possible dismissal of the current members of the SC. “When it will be voted in the second reading, then we will suspend the competition,” Ursu-Antoci explained.

 

 

 

Natalia Morari’s claim against TV8 to be examined by the court

 

 

 

Natalia Morari’s application against the association Media Alternativa, the holder of the broadcasting license for TV8, will be examined in court, after the application was initially rejected. According to TV8, the journalist wants to be reinstated as a member of the association.
Morari’s application was registered on October 11. Previously, the status of the case indicated that the magistrates had not granted the journalist’s request. However, as of October 20, the court’s website shows that the case is under consideration.
At the same time, the courts’ website also lists two other cases (dated October 13 and October 20) filed by Cristina Gutu against Media Alternativa, concerning the annulment of acts and contracts. Cristina Gutu is a relative of Morari and co-founder of Media Alternativa.
On October 21, Morari published a post on her personal Facebook page about the complaint against Media Alternativa. “I will defend my right to remain among the founders of TV8 and I will not allow the takeover of the station by my illegal removal from the television I created…for the simple reason that someone does not agree with choices…related to my personal life,” Natalia Morari wrote.

 

 

 

SC TRM has amended its operating rules. The proposal to broadcast meetings online was rejected

 

 

 

The TRM SC has approved new amendments to the entity’s organizational and operational regulations. One of the member’s proposals that board meetings be broadcast live was not supported by the other colleagues.
At its September 30 meetings, the SC members decided that the meetings of the SC shall be conducted in compliance with all the principles laid down in the AMSC. “Most of the meetings are public, the announcement of the meeting agenda, the venue and the link to the meeting is published in due time on the company’s website,” read the minutes from the state meeting. According to most SC members, in the case of recording and placing meetings on the webpage “it is necessary to identify the persons responsible,” which is not technically possible for the SC.

 

 

 

Igor Dodon’s lawsuit against Ziarul de Garda has been dropped

 

 

 

In an October 6 decision, the Chisinau Court of Appeals (Centre Court) has removed from the docket the lawsuit filed by former President Igor Dodon against Ziarul de Garda. The former head of state filed a lawsuit in 2020, unhappy with several details published in the investigation “Luxury holidays of the president” in which journalists wrote about the exotic destinations visited by the politician and his family during his time as a parliamentarian. The IJC is providing legal assistance in the case.
According to ZdG, Dodon’s lawyer appeared only at the first hearing of the trial in May 2020, while the plaintiff (Dodon) appeared at none. After Igor Dodon as well as his legal representative did not notify the court of the reasons for their absence, ZdG’s lawyer asked for the case to be dismissed, and the judges decided to grant her request.

 

 

 

Chisinau court rejected Prime TV’s complaint against BC after station was fined on the basis of an IJC petition

 

 

 

In an October 15 ruling, the Riscani District Court in Chisinau has rejected a complaint filed by the company General Media Group (GMG) against the BC regarding the annulment of the regulator’s decision to fine the channel 5000 lei (250 Euros).
At its meeting on November 2, 2020, BC members examined six petitions submitted by the IJC. One of the petitions concerned Prime TV, which broadcast on September 1 and 7, 2020, the program “Vorbeste Moldova” (Speak Moldova) containing violent speech and uncensored language. In its petition, the IJC drew attention to the fact that during the September 7 broadcast, there was evidence of increased verbal aggression. The guests on the set argued and swore at each other, after which the lead personality left the studio threatening to burn down his house (which happened the day after the broadcast)
BC monitoring data confirmed the violations and the broadcaster was fined 5,000 lei.

 

 

 

Public debate on spread of falsehoods in media and on social networks: “It is important not to attack freedom of expression”

 

 

 

The fight against the spread of false information and counterfeit identities in the media and on social networks must consider freedom of expression and the right of journalists to publish under a pseudonym. This is one of the issues raised by civil society representatives during the October 5 debate on identifying mechanisms to counter the crime of spreading false information in the media. Representatives of the authorities and media associations attended the meeting.
Lilian Carp, Chair of Parliamentary Committee on National Security, Defense and Public Order, referred to an ISS briefing note, claiming that the spread of falsehoods could be traced fake/camouflaged accounts on social networks and that the dissemination of false information increased during events of great socio-political significance: pandemics, electoral campaigns and elections, and international conflicts.
The executive director of the Independent Press Association, Petru Macovei, stressed that legislators must act carefully when addressing such issues, because “it is extremely important not to attack journalists’ freedom of expression and not to criticize even those writing anonymously. The right of any journalist to write under a pseudonym cannot be denied by any law”, underscored Macovei. However, he acknowledged that some media outlets create false identities to distribute misinformation and propaganda.
The debates were organized with the aim of drafting a law to remove legislative loopholes that favor the fraudulent use of the identity of a natural or legal person or the use of a false identity for the purpose of defamation. Carp said that the committee’s deputies will collect proposals from civil society and state institutions to draft laws to be debated later.

 

 

 

SC recommends setting up commission of inquiry into Ecaterina Stratan, after public broadcaster Moldova 1 was sanctioned for confusing live parliamentary sittings

 

 

 

The TRM SC has recommended that the public broadcaster Moldova 1 set up a commission of inquiry to determine the degree of guilt of Deputy Director-General for Television, Ecaterina Stratan, in relation to TRM’s mixing up of parliament sessions on live broadcasting. The SC members made this decision in early October after they heard the report of the committee investigating the case.
The examination of the matter took place in a closed session in order to ensure the protection of personal data. According to the minutes of the meeting, SC member Larisa Calugaru said that responsibility for the mistake should be borne by the company’s management. Her colleague, Alexandru Versinin, proposed setting up a committee of inquiry to establish the degree of guilt of the deputy director general in charge of television, Ecaterina Stratan, in this case. His suggestion was supported by five votes, with three members against it.
Recall, the BC publicly warned Moldova 1 for violating the rules of fair information after the TV station broadcast and had studio guests comment on footage of a Parliament session other than the one covered in the story. The TRM administration attributes the error to stress and confusion.

 

 

 

A new PSRM-affiliated TV station is expected to appear on the airwaves. TV9 will have “entertaining” content

 

 

 

The BC has granted a 9-year broadcasting license to Media Platform, the owner of the new TV channel TV9.
The TV representative, journalist Dumitru Buimistru from Exclusiv TV (TNT), told the BC meeting that the channel will have “entertaining” content and will broadcast the necessary amount of local content.
He could not answer the question on the feasibility of the project, saying that the channels’ administrator, Svetlana Caraseni, was taking care of these issues.
Caraseni founded the company Media Platform on April 23, 2021. She is also listed as the administrator of Exclusiv Sales House, which was founded by P.P. Exclusiv Media. P.P. Exclusiv Media, in turn, belongs to socialist MP Corneliu Furculita and owns the TV stations NTV Moldova and Exclusiv TV (retransmits TNT content from Russia).
Caraseni also appears as a director of Alkasar Media Services, which according to Infodebit.md is owned by former Liberal Democrat MP Chiril Lucinschi (50%) and Berloman Limited (50%) from Cyprus. Lucinschi told Deschide.md that he has no connection with the new media project.

 

 

 

BC granted broadcasting licenses for two more new TV stations

 

 

 

At an October 15 meeting, the BC granted two broadcasting licenses to Binamex-M, which plans to launch Premiera TV and Next TV in Moldova.
Binamex-M representative Artur Verstiuc said that he has about 20 years of experience in the media sector, having been involved in the launch and management of several media institutions in Moldova, including Hit FM, Radio Maxim, Publika TV, and Muz TV. He announced that Next TV will be a “one hundred percent local” news channel and that the station is not politically affiliated.  The other station, Premiera TV, will be a general commercial station, focusing on entertainment. The media manager said the two channels will not carry foreign content. Both channels will be broadcast via the networks of media service distributors and satellite providers.

 

 

 

ANRCETI announces further increase in revenues for pay-TV companies

 

 

 

In the second quarter of 2021, total revenues from the provision of pay-TV services amounted to 58 million lei, up 27 percent compared to the same period last year, according to data from the National Agency for Regulation in Electronic Communications and Information Technology (ANRCETI).
The agency said the average monthly revenue per user (AMRU) of pay-TV service providers averaged 53.2 lei during the reporting period, up 21.1 percent. In this context, Orange Moldova recorded an AMRU of 61.9 lei, Moldtelecom – 68.9 lei, and TV BOX – 45.6 lei. At the same time, the average monthly revenue per user of alternative providers was 42.5 lei.

At the end of the second quarter of this year, the largest operators in the pay-TV market had the following market shares by turnover: Moldtelecom and TV BOX (affiliated with the operator StarNet) – 29.8 percent and 29.5 percent, respectively, Orange Moldova – 21.2 percent. The cumulative share of the other providers was 19.5 percent.

 

 

 

Media Legislation

 

 

 

Deputies voted in second reading on draft law on cancellation of offshore secrecy

 

 

 

Deputies voted in a second reading the draft law aimed at abolishing offshore secrecy and making companies on the territory of Moldova more transparent. The initiative, which was introduced by a group of PAS deputies, was adopted at the 28 October sitting of the Parliament with the vote of 74 deputies.

The main provisions of the document refer to the obligation of the Public Service Agency to ensure public access to information in the State Register on beneficial owners and allow for open data on these companies to be published on existing resources and platforms.

With this being said, the aim is to remove the anonymity of beneficial owners of offshore companies. This has “great potential to prevent grand corruption by promoting transparency in society, ensuring and fully guaranteeing the constitutional right of citizens to information of public interest,” the initiative’s briefing note states.

More than 500 companies registered in Moldova will be covered by this law.

 

 

 

Lawyer on CC decision on access to customs information: Data should be easier to obtain

 

 

 

The Constitutional Court (CC) has recognized as constitutional the article of the Customs Code regulating the use of customs information, “insofar as the customs body and the court can verify – when examining cases of access to information – the existence of a legitimate purpose for restricting access to information used for customs purposes”. The CC also noted that the customs body “can weigh competing principles.” The decision was issued on October 26.
Lawyer Vitalie Zama, who referred the case to the Court, commented to the IJC Media Azi portal that, “naturally, following the Court’s ruling, the practice of providing customs information should change and, consequently, it should be easier for information seekers to obtain customs information.” However, the lawyer said that all conclusions depend on the factual and legal circumstances of each case. “Conclusions can be made by officials within the customs body who are asked to have access to this information. Conclusions can also be made by common law judges in the event that there is a refusal by customs officials to provide access to information,” Zama stressed.
The judgment is final and cannot be appealed.

 

 

 

PAS proposes to introduce restrictions on investments from offshore areas. The initiative also targets media sector

 

 

 

The activity of media organizations, registered in offshore domiciles or involved in money laundering, could be banned in Moldova. This is the result of a draft law, drafted by a group of PAS MPs and voted in first reading in an October 28 parliamentary session.
The document lists conditions for investors to carry out investment activities and introduce oversight mechanisms in areas of importance for state security, including media and audiovisual services, access to or control over personal data, administration of public state registers, information security, etc.
One of the authors of the draft, MP Dumitru Alaiba, wrote on his Facebook page that the initiative was registered as an emergency.
The authors of the draft law noted that the examination of investment projects in the above mentioned areas would be handled by a collegial body under the Government – the Council for the Promotion of Investment Projects of Importance for State Security.

 

 

 

Draft law on establishment of parliamentary control over Teleradio-Moldova has been approved in first reading

 

 

 

On October 21, the legislature approved in the first reading the draft law providing for the return of TRM to parliamentary control. TRM was under parliamentary control until 2019. Under the draft law, the TRM general director would be appointed by the legislature, at the proposal of the Supervisory and Development Council (the new name for the SC), and could be dismissed by parliamentarians “following a finding of improper performance or non-performance of his duties.”

MPs also propose that the rejection of the annual activity report of the Broadcasting Council (BC) should “entail the automatic dismissal of the members of the BC”. Also, the mandate of the current members of the SC, the Director General, and the TRM’s deputies would automatically cease on the date of entry into force of the law.

Opposition MPs have asked for the issue to be postponed until it has been debated in public. Some media experts also reacted harshly. Cristina Durnea, legal adviser to the Independent Journalism Centre (IJC), said that the lack of efficiency of the management and supervisory bodies of the public audiovisual media service provider hinders the development of the TRM, but that the establishment of oversight mechanisms may reintroduce politicized interference in the work of TRM.

Several non-governmental media organizations, including the IJC, issued a statement warning that such practices have previously led to the political subordination of TRM, resulting in several convictions for violating Article 10 of the ECHR Convention.

 

 

 

Voted in first reading, the draft amendment to the Audiovisual Media Services Code was debated during public consultations in Parliament. What experts say

 

 

 

A few days after the draft law on the transfer of the public company TRM to parliamentary control was voted in first reading, the relevant committee of the legislature held public consultations on it.

During the discussions, PAS MP and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Culture, Education, Research, Youth, Sport and the Media, Virgiliu Paslariuc, said that the parliamentary majority was doing nothing more than bringing a public institution back under public control. According to him, the MPs’ proposal that the BC’s rejection of the annual report (in the event that defective activity is found) should lead to the dismissal of the BC members is an international practice that can also be applied in Moldova.

Cristina Durnea, legal adviser to the Independent Journalism Centre (IJC),drew attention to the fact that the standards laid down in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and in the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe require that political forces should distance themselves as much as possible from the process “of appointing the management of public broadcasting institutions and bodies representing the public interest in the field of broadcasting.” Durnea described as controversial the term “defective activity”, which “is not defined in the law and is not appropriate in the context of legislative practice in general”.

On the other hand, the Executive Director of the Independent Press Association (API), Petru Macovei, believes that the draft could temporarily solve certain problems. “I don’t see a problem in bringing Teleradio-Moldova back under parliamentary control,” Macovei said. In his opinion, however, the composition of the TRM SC should be more representative of the civil society that oversees the work of the public broadcaster. Macovei argued that it should be represented by four members instead of two, as provided for in the draft law.

The co-author of the Audiovisual Media Services Code, Eugeniu Ribca, said that there should be parliamentary control, but that “we are now going with the idea of accountability, which amounts to excessive control.” The expert believes that the problem should be tackled by making the members of the concerned councils personally responsible.

 

 

 

PAS MP on Media Services Code amendment: We could add definitions of fake news, propaganda and disinformation

 

 

 

The draft law on amending the Audiovisual Media Services Code in order to make TRM and the BC more accountable was also discussed during public debates organized by the IPN news agency.

In attendance at the event, Virgiliu Paslariuc, Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Culture, Education, Research, Youth, Sport and Media, said that the draft law – even if already voted on in the first reading, could be amended to introduce new definitions, for example on fake news and propaganda. According to the PAS MP, the electorate demanded during the election campaign to put the audiovisual sector in order and the parliamentary majority is only complying with these demands. “We need a modern television space…not to mention the fact that we are in this hybrid war in which the role of counter-propaganda (correctly informing citizens) is very important,” said Paslariuc.

Media experts also spoke about the project.  The Executive Director of the Electronic Press Association (APEL), Ion Bunduchi, criticized the formula proposed by MPs for appointing the members of the BC and the SC – three from Parliament, one from the Presidency, one from the government and two from civil society. In his opinion, it “will not and cannot work”.

Expert Igor Botan warned of another aspect. “We know that, until now, those appointed by Parliament, government, and so on have practically always expressed their feeling of gratitude to those who appointed them. This has always been observed in Moldova and we have no certainty that from now on, with the good intentions of PAS, we will not have the same situation,” said Botan

The Committee on Culture, Education, Research, Youth, Sport and the Media is to summarize the proposals made by the participants in the public debate, so that they can be taken into account during the second reading of the draft law.

 

 

 

Executive returns to draft law to give journalists free access to more databases

 

 

 

The Moldovan government has returned to an earlier draft law that intended to provide journalists with free access to several databases such as the State Register of Legal Entities and the Cadastre of Real Estate, executive representatives told the IJC’s Media Azi portal. The State Chancellery developed and promoted the initiative in 2019, when Maia Sandu was Prime Minister. The document reached the table of MPs but was not approved.

Anastasia Taburceanu, Spokeswoman for Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita, told Media Azi that the government had returned to the initiative and that the Justice Ministry would add more amendments, but she could not say exactly what the changes were.

Contacted by Media Azi, Liliana Nicolaescu-Onofrei, Chairwoman of the Parliament media committee, said that, “The draft from the previous legislature (no. 210 of 2019) has become null and void. Thus, the Government of the Republic of Moldova, as the author, is to return and submit the draft to the Parliament for re-entry into the legislative process.”

 

 

 

Media Monitoring

 

 

 

Liliana Nicolaescu-Onofrei asks BC to monitor Moldova 1, Primul in Moldova and NTV Moldova channels

 

 

 

The Chairwoman of Parliament’s Committee on Culture, Education, Research, Youth, Sport and the Media has asked the Broadcasting Council (BC) to monitor Moldova 1, Primul in Moldova and NTV Moldova in relation to the way they informed the public about the events of October 5-10.

The complaint signed by Liliana Nicolaescu-Onofrei reads, “In this case, we request that the investigations be carried out as a matter of urgency with regard to respecting and ensuring impartiality, the free formation of opinions, the presentation of the main points of view of the various parties, the avoidance of any form of discrimination in audiovisual news and debate program, and the provision of information on issues of public interest of a political, economic, social or cultural nature.”

Nicolaescu-Onofrei told Media Azi that she had decided to refer the matter to the BC, because the TV stations concerned had allegedly broadcast incorrect information about the case of Alexandr Stoianoglo, as well as the actions of the government and the Presidency.

Socialist Party MP Adela Raileanu described the committee chair’s request as “interference” in the work of the BC.

 

 

 

BC’s response to Liliana Nicolaescu-Onofrei’s request: All national suppliers will be monitored

 

 

 

The BC has decided to monitor the news bulletins of all national TV stations from October 5-10. The decision was taken after Liliana Nicolaescu-Onofrei, Chairwoman of the Parliament’s Committee on Culture, Education, Research, Youth, Sport, and the Media, asked the CA to monitor Moldova 1, First in Moldova and NTV Moldova channels with respect to how they informed the public about events during the indicated period.

“Taking into account that only three national media service providers have been referenced, and that all media service providers have an obligation to provide correct information to the public, and taking into account the technical capabilities of the BC and the fact that national providers have a greater contribution to the formation of opinion in society, I propose to acknowledge the complaint and consider it appropriate to monitor the main news bulletins of national media service providers,” argued Ala Ursu-Antoci.

All the BC members at the meeting supported the proposal.

 

 

 

BC fined five TV stations 5,000 lei each for broadcasting advertising with sound levels above the permissible limit

 

 

 

At the BC’s October 22 meeting, five TV stations were fined 5,000 lei (250 euro) each for broadcasting advertising blocks with sound levels above the permissible limit.

The monitoring showed that between September 24 and September 30, the TV stations Moldova 1, Moldova 2, Jurnal TV, Primul in Moldova and Publika TV used different volumes in audiovisual programs and audiovisual commercials.
At the meeting, the BC members proposed to start monitoring four other TV stations in the same area. Previously, the BC specialists had established in a special monitoring report that nine TV stations were in breach of the requirements regarding the permissible level of sound in broadcast programs. Thus, at a June meeting, the BC members verbally warned the relevant TV stations and gave them until September 1, 2021, to comply with the legal requirements.

 

 

 

Harsh fines for TV stations for lack of translations and insufficient local content

 

 

 

At the October 28 meeting of the BC, the results of the monitoring of TV channels Primul in Moldova, RTR Moldova, BRAVO TV, PEH TV and CTC in relation to their compliance with local audiovisual programs’ volume and translations regulations were examined.
The BC members found that the five broadcasters had committed violations of the provisions on local content creation. As a result, Primul in Moldova was sanctioned with a public warning, BRAVO TV – with a fine of 10,000 lei (500 Euro), and RTR Moldova, PEH TV and CTC – with fines of 15,000 lei (750 euro) each.
At the same time, TV channels CTC and PEH TV were fined 10,000 lei (500 Euro) and BRAVO TV was fined 25,000 lei (1250 Euro) for repeated violations of the requirements on dubbing film broadcasts with Romanian subtitles (in the case of children’s films – dubbing or subtitling).

 

 

 

The Media Azi Show

 

 

 

Moldova is set to be assessed on compliance with the right of access to information. This is the first time our country will go through such an exercise since the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents, known as the Tromsø Convention (also signed by Moldova) entered into force on December 1, 2020. Ambassador Corina Calugaru, Permanent Representative of the Moldova to the Council of Europe, explains on the Media Azi show what the assessment consists of and how the Tromsø Convention could improve the situation regarding access to information in our country.

 

 

 

Throughout the three decades of independence, “effective implementation of national provisions on access to information and freedom of expression (…) has been a challenge,” the UN Human Rights Office in the Republic of Moldova recently concluded. Moreover, relevant organizations at home and abroad continue to note shortcomings in this area. Media Azi briefly analyzes in a new video how Moldova fares in terms of freedom of expression and access to information in the most important international and national reports.

 

 

 

IJC Updates

 

 

 

Media Education Week, the fourth time in Moldova

 

 

 

The IJC held the fourth edition of Media Education Week in Moldova from October 18-24 in the context of UNESCO’s World Media Education Week.
As tradition goes, at the beginning of the week, the IJC presented the results of the five years of promotion and teaching of the optional course Media Education in pre-university educational institutions in the country. At the same time, a campaign to promote Media Literacy was launched with the support of teachers who teach this optional subject. On October 22, the results of the first stage of the second edition of the competition “Media Literacy – a Priority in My School” were announced.The IJC also announced two competitions for pupils: a photo competition on the theme “Virtual space –  friend or danger?” for primary school students and a video competition on the theme “Debunking falsehoods and misinformation on social networks” for secondary and high school students.Media Education Week is organized by the IJC as part of the project “Strengthening Media Literacy Skills in the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by the IJC with the support of Deutsche Welle Akademie and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

 

 

 

Winners of first stage of  competition “Media Literacy – a Priority in My School” have been announced

 

 

 

The IJC has announced the winners of the first round of the competition “Media Literacy – Priority in my School,” which aims to support and encourage teachers’ efforts to educate students in critical thinking. The jury selected 12 winners – 7 schools where Media Literacy is taught in the 2021-2022 school year and 5 schools where it is not taught.
Thus, the following winners have been selected from the 19 participating schools where Media Literacy is taught: Sarcova Gymnasium, Sarcova village, Rezina; “Vasile Parvan” Gymnasium, Gotesti village, Cantemir; Zgurita Gymnasium, Zgurita village, Drochia; “DA VINCI” Theoretical High School,  Chisinau; Theoretical High School “Mihai Eminescu”, v.. Sipoteni,  Calarasi (teaching in Romanian); Theoretical High School “Al. Pushkin”,  Falești and Theoretical High School “Lev Tolstoy”,  Glodeni (teaching in Russian).And from the 11 applications submitted by educational institutions where the school subject Education for Media is not yet studied, the jury chose 5 winners: Gymnasium Albinetul Vechi, village Albinetul Vechi, Falesti; Gymnasium “Alecu Mare”, village Slobozia Mare, Cahul; Theoretical High School “Vasile Coroban”,Glodeni; Theoretical High School “Heritage”, Chisinau and Centre of Excellence in Construction,  Chisinau (all taught in Romanian).
The selected institutions will have six months, from November 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022, and 300 Euro each to carry out media education activities. These will be presented at a recap event in June 2022 in Chisinau.The competition is organized by the IJC in the framework of the project “Strengthening Media Literacy Skills,” with the support of Deutsche Welle Akademie and the financial support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Research of the Republic of Moldova.

 

 

 

24 students trained by IJC to create impactful video content

 

 

 

On October 16, the IJC organized an online training for 24 secondary and high school students on how to produce quality video material. The training and the competition were held in the context of Media Education Week in Moldova, which the IJC held from October 18-October 24. Natalia Gribinet-Strogoteanu, Director of the Media Education program at the Youth Media Centre, taught students how to use their mobile phone camera to create photo and video content.

One of the aims of the training was to teach students how to create video content focusing on media literacy, misinformation and manipulation. This training would allow them to participate in the “Debunking Falsehoods and Misinformation on Social Media” competition launched by the IJC as part of Media Education Week.

 

 

 

Journalists from left and right banks of Dniester River created multimedia products in joint project

 

 

 

Several multimedia products – created based on the concepts proposed by three joint teams of journalists from both sides of the Dniester River – were developed under the project “Promoting Media Dialogue on Both Banks of the Dniester River”, implemented by the Independent Journalism Centre (IJC). Under the project, journalists addressed topics of interest to readers on both banks of the Dniester.

The team of journalist Viorica Tataru (TV8), producer Andrei Captarenco (TV8) and Coordinator of the Platform for Health in the Slobozia district, Veaceslav Popescul, brought to the fore three life stories of people from both sides of the river, in their piece “People from the other side” (in Russian: Люди с другого берега). This piece was accompanied by comments by the doctor of history Anatolie Taranu and sociologist Vasile Cantarji.

Two other journalists who are both employees of the international TV outlet “MIR” – Irina Glusco (Tiraspol) and cameraman/picture editor Andrei Sura (Chisinau) – reported on the electrification of the Dniester River in their piece “How hydropower plants drain the country’s waterways (in Russian: ЭлектроДнестр. Как ГЭС истощают водную артерию страны).” The journalists looked at several issues related to infrastructure development in the energy sector and the consequences this development has for the environment.

The third team, consisting of Media Centre Director Luiza Dorosenco (Grigoriopol), Media Centre journalist Margarita Cojuhari (Tiraspol) and Newsmaker.md journalist Vitalie Shmacov (Chisinau) published the articles “The other side of love” (in Russian: “Обратная сторона любви”) and “How many Roma are in Transnistria and how they live” (in Russian: Cколько ромов в приднестровье и как они живут). In the two articles, the authors talk about victims of domestic violence and the situation of Roma in the Transnistrian region.

The journalists were mentored by two consultants with extensive experience in new technologies: Gulim Amirkhanova, journalist and author of TV and online journalism training programs in Kazakhstan, and Ana Gherciu, journalist and executive director of the Moldova.org portal. The teams also received financial support under the project and published their articles in at least two media outlets on both sides of the Dniester.

The multimedia materials were produced under the project “Promoting Media Dialogue on Both Sides of the Dniester River”, implemented by the IJC with financial support from the OSCE Mission to Moldova. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the OSCE Mission to Moldova.

 

 

 

Internews Updates

 

 

 

Report on analysing Moldovan legislation, financial and banking environment, and local payment system for launching donation and subscription platforms for media organizations

 

 

 

As part of MEDIA-M’s efforts to promote financial sustainability models for media in Moldova, Internews in Moldova published a report on analysing methods for media to launch donation and subscription platforms. The report was provided by the independent expert Andrei Bivol, who analyzed the Moldovan legislation, financial and banking environment, and local payment systems necessary to launch donation and subscription platforms for media organizations as legal entities (non-profit and commercial).
Key findings of the analysis include: 

  • The Moldovan legislation does not preclude nor contain any major obstacles in the implementation of electronic subscription or donation platforms by media. The only issue to be considered is the need to adjust the Law on press nr. 243/1994, which refers to “periodical publication” and “press agency” as relevant media organizational structures. Most active media outlets are organized as commercial or non-commercial organizations. For that reason, the existing legal framework is confusing regarding the rules applicable to media. The status of electronic media, the financing, and transparency of finances are not regulated.
  • Media outlets’ success in launching the platforms depends on their technical abilities to integrate payment methods and internal commercial abilities to make such transactions attractive to financial institutions and obtain the necessary payment services.
  • The banks are not interested in investing in technology and providing recurring payments to media because of the small number of e-subscription and donation transactions made through the local payment instruments.

Bivol recommended the following actions for media:

  • Adapt their websites and platforms to smoothly integrate payment services and ensure the necessary e-commerce requirements for data and cyber security.
  • Join efforts to negotiate with banks and obtain the necessary payment services.
  • Unite forces to combat the “free digital media content” culture.
  • Draft the necessary internal documentation to bring revenue obtained through PayPal or Patreon accounts into the Republic of Moldova.

You can find out more information by accessing the REPORT, published in Romanian.

 

 

 

IJC and Internews Updates

 

 

 

In five years, media literacy has reached all districts and municipalities in the country

 

 

 

The 2021-2022 school year is the fifth in which the subject Media Literacy has been taught in schools in the Republic of Moldova and the first in which the subject has been taught in all districts and municipalities of the country.

In 2021 alone, the IJC trained 115 teachers in media education, increasing the number trained to 533. Currently, 128 educators who have progressed through media skills trainings in recent years teach the optional subject Media Literacy to 4,180 students in 103 schools across the country.

At the same time, the number of academics engaging with the field is much higher, as media literacy textbooks are also used as teaching materials in other school subjects or electives.

Media Literacy was introduced into the curriculum with the agreement of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research in the 2017-2018 school year. From 2017-2021, around 7,700 students from all three educational levels studied this optional subject.

The IJC organizes media education activities under the following projects: “Strengthening Media Education Skills,” with the support of Deutsche Welle Akademie and with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); “Media in Support of Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova (MEDIA-M),” funded by USAID, UK and implemented by Internews in Moldova; “Enhancing Support for Independent Russian Language Media Institutions and Media Education Efforts,” financially supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands.

 

 

 

IJC continues training sessions for civil servants on access to information

 

 

 

A group of 32 junior civil servants from local public authorities, who are auditors at the Academy of Public Administration (APA), participated in a new October 14 training organized by the IJC in partnership with the APA.

IJC legal advisor Cristina Durnea and RISE Moldova investigative journalist Nicolae Cuschevici served as trainers for this course. They told the APA audience about the legislation they have to adhere to when dealing with requests from media representatives, the rules for receiving, registering and redirecting requests for information, and the cases in which the provider is entitled to grant the requesters a refusal. The auditors also looked at practical cases where providers have misapplied the law on personal data protection.

The lessons are part of a program launched in 2019 following a cooperation agreement signed between the two institutions. During the previous academic year, more than 90 public sector employees became acquainted with the procedure for providing information thanks to trainings organized by the IJC.

This course was conducted by the Independent Journalism Centre (IJC) as part of the project “Media in Support of Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova (MEDIA-M)” project, which is funded by USAID, UK and implemented by Internews in Moldova. The project aims to promote the development of independent and professional media and create a media sector more resilient to political and economic pressures.

 

 

 

In 2021, the CU SENS team increased its online audience, including Russian-speaking

 

 

 

The CU SENS media project, launched at the end of 2019, made significant steps towards increasing its online audience (including its Russian-speaking audience) in 2021. CU SENS is one of the IJC’s four media partners in the project “Understanding Audience through Digital Assistance.”
Co-founder of CU SENS Liuba Shevciuc notes that the launch of the project coincided with the launch of cusens.md in March. With the help of the project’s international experts, Serghei Saharov and Alexei Terehov, the CU SENS team experimented with various methods of audience awareness, communication and interaction. Another thing the team focused on was monetizing online content. As part of the project, CU SENS also managed to produce a promo talking about the team, their activities and the platforms where they can be found.
CU SENS’ website audience grew from 256 unique visitors in March to 8,500 unique visitors in August 2021.The video material was prepared as part of the project “Understanding Audience through Digital Assistance,” implemented by Internews with the support of Sweden. The project aims to contribute to improving the quality of media content and the financial sustainability of media outlets through cultivating a better understanding of audience needs.

 

 

 

Regional portal BAStv doubled its audience by improving quality of its media content

 

 

 

The year 2021 was an important one for the BAStv regional portal, which decided to focus on online development. It expanded its audience by improving the quality, volume, and variety of media content published on its site. This included the creation of new sections and the publication of materials geared towards increase its female audience. BAStv is also a media partner of the IJC in the project “Understanding Audiences through Digital Assistance”.

“The IJC project was a good opportunity to improve our level of professionalism, strengthen our material base, open new sections on the website, and thus increase our audience,” says BAStv Editor-in-hief Ludmila Topal.

BAStv’s main goal is to become a financially sustainable media institution, that is, to depend less on grants and earn more from advertising. In order to do this, the newsroom needed knowledge on how to increase its audience.

According to Topal, BAStv’s audience growth has been influenced by several factors, including a five-fold increase in the number of publications, the content of the publications, a new concise and visually engaging approach to its publications, and the development of multimedia content.

The video material was prepared as part of the project “Understanding Audiences through Digital Assistance” implemented by Internews with the support of Sweden. The project aims to contribute to improving the quality of media content and the financial sustainability of media organizations through a better understanding of audience needs.

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