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Call of Media NGOs: Claiming Transparency, Access to Public Interest information and Real Reforms to Facilitate Media Development

12 August 2021
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Non-governmental media organizations call on the new Government of the Republic of Moldova to ensure real transparency of the activities of public institutions and unrestricted access to public interest information for journalists and media outlets – issues that were neglected by the former government despite repeated calls from NGOs and newsrooms. We call for the removal of current practices, when persons holding public offices refuse to answer questions from journalists; ministries and agencies are reluctant to hold press conferences; requests for access to information are delayed or incomplete; and journalists do not have access to territorial meetings with mayors and other local elected officials and civil servants. Communication and transparency are essential elements of good governance, and the right to information and journalists’ right to obtain and disseminate public interest information are guaranteed by the Constitution and the legislation in force.

Media NGOs call on the Parliament and the Government of the Republic of Moldova to implement real reforms, which would create conditions for the sustainable development of Moldovan journalism on democratic and European principles. We recall that some good draft laws, prepared with the support of the European Union and the Council of Europe, have been gathering dust in the drawers of the parliamentary committees, but their adoption was blocked by the old government that protected interest groups and media owners, including from among politicians. This approach has encouraged the massive use of media platforms for the purpose of political promotion and distribution of false information, and has led to the distortion of the media market by stimulating unfair competition and the abuse of dominant positions.

We request that the following objectives, which we consider absolutely necessary for reforming the media field, be included in the agenda of the Committee on Culture, Education, Research, Youth, Sports and Media of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and in the Action Plan for the implementation of “Moldova of Good Times” Government Program:

  • Finalize, approve and implement the National Media Development Program for 2021-2025 and the Action Plan for the implementation of the Program, developed in accordance with the National Concept for Media Development (Law no. 67 of 26 July 2018);
  • Complete the legislative and normative frameworks to remove the artificial impediments and facilitate access to public interest information for representatives of media outlets (amend and supplement the Law on Access to Information, Law on Freedom of Expression, Law on Private Data Protection, Civil Code, Contravention Code, Law on State Secrecy, Administrative Code, Law on Real Estate Cadastre, etc.);
  • Improve practices to provide access to public interest information, ensure real transparency of data and reopen databases for journalists accessing public interest information;
  • Improve the legislative and normative frameworks in the fields of advertising and competition on the media market, by adopting the new draft law on advertising and the draft law to complete the Law on Competition. Make the Competition Council more efficient and accountable in investigating and sanctioning cartel agreements and dominant position abuses in the media and in advertising markets;
  • Review the legislative framework to ensure real transparency of the beneficiary owners of media outlets and the sources of funding for broadcast media service providers;
  • Amend the procedures for measuring the audiences of broadcast media service providers to guarantee the provision of truthful audience data and a fair competitive environment;
  • Draft and approve amendments to the Code of Broadcast Media Services to remove political subordination and streamline the activity of the Broadcast Council and of the Supervisory Board of the Public Broadcaster “Teleradio-Moldova”;
  • Carry out an in-depth reform of the Public Broadcaster “Teleradio-Moldova” Company and transform it into an efficient company to ensure independent and qualitative broadcasting;
  • Stop air broadcasting as from 1 January 2022 and strengthen the multiplex system, including by partially subsidizing its cost for broadcast media service providers for the incipient period;
  • Examine, finalize and approve the draft law on establishing the national system to support the development of independent media outlets of public benefit, including those in the regions of the Republic of Moldova;
  • Reorganize the work of the State Company "Posta Moldovei" and facilitate the distribution and retail sale of local periodicals in all distribution networks in the country;
  • Review the Information Security Strategy for 2019-2024 and supplement it with specific actions that would ensure the protection of the local information space from outside harmful information interferences;
  • Evaluate the national legislation and European practices on fake news fighting, draft and adopt legislative amendments in this regard, which would also ensure an operational and appropriate response of public institutions to fight fake news;
  • Complete the percentage designation mechanism (“2% Law”) by including media outlets as potential beneficiaries of the 2% designation from the personal income tax;
  • Revise the provisions of the Election Code in the part concerning coverage of the elections by the media, by removing ambiguities and unifying the terms used to facilitate the work of broadcast media service providers during election periods.

Association of Independent Press
Centre for Investigative Journalism
Press Freedom Committee
Access-Info Centre
Electronic Press Association
Independent Journalism Centre
RISE Moldova
Association of Environmental and Ecological Tourism Journalists
Media-Guard Association