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The BC and Broadcasting Issues Discussed at the Mass Media Forum 2020: The Council Is Dismissive of Very Serious Breaches

24 November 2020
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The Broadcasting Council (BC) needs to be subject to external assessment, and the legislation regulating the authority’s activity has to be improved to increase the transparency of the institution. This is one of the remarks of the guests at the sixth Mass Media Forum 2020 held on November 24-25 in Chisinau. Among other issues, the speakers emphasized the importance of the independent press, the contribution of the media and the authorities to the November elections, the impact of the pandemic, and combating fake news, as well as the role of the state in this regard.

During the opening session of the Forum, the elected president Maia Sandu referred to the international organizations’ conclusions regarding the contribution of the BC in this autumn’s elections and the need to assess the broadcasting regulatory authority. “These are not only our claims; we also have some findings from the international institutions’ reports. Even the OSCE and ENEMO reports say that the BC did not cope with its job well enough during this election campaign. We have seen attempts to intimidate media institutions which inform citizens objectively and, on the contrary, the Council members are dismissive of very serious breaches, misinformation, hate speech, and attempts to divide society,” Maia Sandu emphasized.

Maia Sandu. Sursa foto: Media Azi

She also referred to the draft law registered by the Parliament on conducting an external audit within the Council for assessing its efficiency. “I support this idea, but at the same time, I think we need to find solutions and amend the law, so that this institution, which we would like to be independent, but which is actually far from independent, could still be assessed and sanctioned whenever it fails to fulfill its functions,” Maia Sandu added.

The EU Ambassador to Chisinau, Peter Michalko, also mentioned the need to improve the legislative framework. “Considering the insistent messages of the OSCE/ODIHR, I would like to make an appeal to the Parliament and the Government to resume the discussions on improving the legal framework for the media and strengthening transparent supervision of the Broadcasting Council’s activity,” the diplomatic official remarked.

He also regrets the fact that the Republic of Moldova has come down in the press freedom rating in recent years. “We also notice only very small steps in examining competition in the advertising market, as well as passivity in implementing recently assumed commitments, such as external assessment of the BC’s activity,” Peter Michalko specified.

Dereck J. Hogan, ambasadorul SUA în Republica Moldova. Sursa foto: Media Azi

The Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Moldova, Dereck J. Hogan, remarked on the need for civil society’s active involvement in the sphere of broadcasting regulation. “To start with, there are no civil society representatives in the Broadcasting Council, a group that many independent experts consider to be under political control. It is important for civil society to have a powerful voice in the decision-making process. It is time for the BC to reflect the voices of all the Moldovans,” the diplomatic official declared.

The Minister of Justice, Fadei Nagacevschi, affirmed in his speech that he did not share the idea of any radical steps regarding the broadcasting legislation. According to him, the legal framework “is good”, and the problem is the “qualities of the persons who implement the law”. “The more pressure the political system and the BC experience, including from civil society, the more chances we have to return to the normal state of things. If we apply the strategy of withdrawing certain immunities and guarantees from the Council, we may find ourselves in an extremely dangerous situation when we have to renew the composition of the Broadcasting Council once every two years”, Fadei Nagacevschi mentioned.

In this context, he announced that the institution had initiated legislative amendments so that the media policy promotion would be attributed to the Ministry of Justice. Deputy Adrian Lebedinschi, president of the parliamentary board on mass media, noted that the legislative authority was drafting laws aimed at the sources of information. “I would like to urge you to contribute to drafting the legislation and also to implementing it,” the deputy addressed the audience.

The Mass Media Forum is convened annually by the Press Council in partnership with the Independent Press Association (IPA), the Independent Journalism Center (IJC), and the Electronic Press Association APEL for discussing the problems of the Moldovan journalistic community and identifying and promoting solutions to improve editorial independence and mass media quality.

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