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Domestic Brand: Writing Reports

29 July 2016
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Ion BUNDUCHI, media expert

I have been asked by a number of people these days: what is behind the rush of the authorities pushing the draft law no. 218 for the second reading? I gave an honest answer: I don’t know, but I suppose that, maybe, they want to “successfully complete” the Roadmap so that the governance can report to Europe on a white horse how good it is. Well, this assumption was confirmed on TV by one of the authors of the legislative initiative.

In essence, there is nothing to blame them for about this. We want to believe that this draft was produced with the intention to stimulate the domestic audiovisual product and combat somehow the external propaganda. The intentions are noble, we can’t deny this (even though nothing is said about internal propaganda). And, frankly speaking, this has also been confirmed by the OSCE and CoE experts who endorsed the draft. Since the expertise raised controversies, we will repeat: the European experts welcomed the intentions and this is understandable. What can be wrong about increasing the amount of domestic media products or combating foreign propaganda, if this contribute to better and more honest information for the citizen?! Who might question such intentions?! However, the same experts have said that the methods for achieving these intentions are dubious, to say the least. We should agree that it is extremely difficult to draw the line where the fight against propaganda stops and where the freedom of information starts. And this is what the European experts were highlighting.

If a certain provision can be interpreted, this means it is bad in the text of a law. To avoid being declared declarative, we will reproduce only two provisions of the draft law no. 218:

Art. 2, c): broadcaster – legal entity, holder of the broadcasting license issued by the Broadcasting Coordinating Council, with the overall responsibility for the broadcasting of program services intended to be received by the public;

Art. 11, (3): the broadcasters whose goal is to obtain financial resources from distribution only do not have the right to place advertising...

Now, let’s translate the definition of “broadcaster” where we are totally disturbed by what they are responsible for – broadcasting. The explanatory dictionary says that “broadcasting” is a “device that transmits the movement from a machine component to another or from a machine to another”. Do we really want to lower the status of the broadcaster, license holder and user of frequency/frequencies, national heritage so much that their responsibility becomes just to push a button for broadcasting program services?! This can be done by anyone who is able to push a button. However, not anyone can design and produce radio/TV programs at professional standards. This is what a broadcaster should be doing, not being responsible for pushing a button. Art. 11, (3), in general, takes us to the jungle, because, on the one hand, the broadcaster must be totally responsible for the “broadcasting of program services”, and, on the other hand, might be dealing only with the “distribution” ignoring the definition of the eventual law. And, based on these provisions, let’s make a test: who and what understood from them when, in fact, everyone should understand – the citizens, the broadcasters and the Broadcasting Coordinating Council. For now, the puzzling provisions we mentioned above have nothing to do with fighting propaganda or increasing the amount of domestic products. But let’s ask ourselves – even if we ignore the other provisions, can any expert in this field endorse such samples?!

In fact, even this does not matter. What matters is that, since our independence (or rather “on our own”), there are multiple questions raised. Let’s review some of them:

- Why is the draft law brought to light at the end of July 2016 as an emergency if the European views on it were ready in September 2015?
- Why can we not join our efforts to prepare a good law that will systemically address the area and will be presented in the second reading in autumn if the new draft Broadcasting Code has been voted in the first reading?
- Why do we ignore the popular wisdom about when exactly the pig does not put on weight?
- Why do we value so much “to report” instead of “to ensure”?
- What difference is there between “to report to Moscow that we harvested twice as much wheat than in the last year”, if rural people must go to the district capital town to buy bread and “to report to Brussels that we have achieved the Roadmap”, if people will keep watching “Let’s get married” or “How to become a millionaire” (Russian TV programs)?
- Why, when Europe tells us, as sharply as never “Stop pulling the wool over our eyes” after the failure of the success story, we keep writing reports?
- Why, after we have been told what was already obvious – that we should work for Moldovan citizens – we still work on reports?
- Why don’t you write in the election program the principle “We undertake to write reports!” and wait for the voters to bring you to the Parliament?

How obvious are the answers!? How many locks keep this secret!
The article was published within the Advocacy Campaigns Aimed at Improving Transparency of Media Ownership, Access to Information and promotion of EU values  and integration project, implemented by the IJC, which is, in its turn, part of the Moldova Partnerships for Sustainable Civil Society project, implemented by FHI 360.

This article is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content are the responsibility of author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.