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Publika TV and ITV, sanctioned by the BC at the first meeting of this year

12 January 2022
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At the first meeting of 2022, the members of the Broadcasting Council (BC) sanctioned the Publika TV station for non-observance of the privacy of minors in a report, and the ITV station for incorrect use of the logo. Both sanctions were applied after the BC was notified by a non-governmental organization and a private company.

In mid-December, the National Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse (NCPCA) – a non-governmental organization that promotes the right of children to protection from any form of violence – notified the BC about a report of December 14 on Publika TV about the case of two girls, “suspected victims of abuse, including sexual abuse, and neglect on the part of the father.” The NGO claimed that journalists in that material disseminated personal data of minors in a vulnerable situation – details, images, names, age and other data of relatives of the children concerned, including their grandmother’s home address. According to them, the report could lead to the re-victimization of the protagonists by self-identification or by their identification by acquaintances. The NCPCA said in their petition that the journalists committed both deontological and legal violations. The organization asked for the station to be sanctioned and the news story to be removed from the archive of the station’s website.

The BC’s monitoring confirmed the arguments invoked in the notification. The BC’s specialists found that the report in question spoke about two girls, five and eight years old, who went under their grandmother’s guardianship after they were taken from their father, who had been accused by prosecutors. The BC found that the journalists failed to protect the image of minors.

The station’s representatives told the BC that by airing the report they only pursued the purpose of informing the viewers of “this extraordinary situation” and to “support the authorities in solving the case.” According to them, the images were not processed because of large workload in the editorial office, and the employees “regret this mistake.” At the same time, both the text and the video were withdrawn from the website, which is also confirmed by the BC. Present at the BC meeting, Publika TV representative Ana Butnariuc also mentioned the need to develop a guide for journalists, which they could use in preparing such materials.

Following debates on this issue, the BC members decided, by a majority of votes, to sanction Publika TV with a public warning for violating the article on the protection of minors, which states that “the right of the minor to respect for privacy and for their own image prevails over the need for information, including in the case of a minor in difficult situation.”

ITV, SANCTIONED FOR CHANGING THE COLOR OF ITS LOGO BYPASSING THE BC

Another issue that ended up with sanctions concerns the ITV station, fined for failing to notify the BC about using the logo in a color other than the one approved by officials. The complaint was filed by Media Content Distribution, which announced the BC that in October last year ITV used another distinctive sign than the one allowed, being similar to that of Canal 5 station.

ITV representatives told the BC that they were using another distinctive sign because a case concerning this issue is currently considered in court, and the BC had been informed about those changes. According to the BC, ITV provided information only after it was told to do so, and the monitoring results confirmed that the television uses a different color of the logo than the approved one.

Thus, the station was sanctioned with a fine of 5,000 MDL “for broadcasting its audiovisual media service in violation of the provisions of the broadcasting license.”