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Strengthening the Media in Orhei or ‘Bribing’ Journalists? Representatives of the TV Stations Affiliated to Sor, are Hiring at Euro TV and Orhei TV

04 September 2018
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Several journalists claimed that they have received job offers from the representatives of Euro TV and Orhei TV (previously Alt TV), the beneficial owners of which are persons affiliated to Orhei Mayor – Ilan Sor. The manager of the two television stations – Dumitru Chitoroaga, ‘proxy represenative’ of Sor Party, confirmd that, at present, the management is getting ready for launching a new concept for the two television stations and that they are hiring. However, he denied that these two television channels represent the intrests of Ilan Sor. 

Officially, the beneficial owner of the two television stations is Rita Tvik, the author of the book ‘Viata si destinul’ [lit. ‘Life and fate’], which is a biography of Miron Sor – the father of Ilan Sor. According to Anticoruptie.md , she is the founder of Novosti-Moldova News Agency [lit. News-Moldova], while her husband – Vladimir Novosadiuc – is the head of Sputnik Moldova Agency. The spouses were mentioned in the report developed by Kroll – the company hired by the Moldovan authorities to investigate the bank frauds. The report said that Rita Tvik and Vladimir Novasadiuc were both Unibank shareholders and that they borrowed MDL 12 million each from Harrogate Consulting LLP. What is more, the media reported that they both acted as intermediaries for Euro TV and Orhei TV to pass into the hands of Orhei Mayor.


Vladimir Novosadiuc (left), Ilan Sor (middle) and Rita Tvik (right). Photo source: Facebook

Rita Tvik is also the founder of Klassika Media SRL, a company that founded Media Resurse SRL and Alternativ-TV SRL, which manage the TV stations. According to the statements made at the Audiovisual Coordination Council (ACC), the company that owns at present the two TV stations is Media Resurse SRL.


Screenshot from the Kroll report.

Job Offers in Orhei

Recently, several journalists have announced on social networks that they had received job offers from representatives of Euro TV and Orhei TV. For instance, Alina Cujba, a Jurnal TV reporter, told us that around the end of August she was offered a job at those TV stations twice by two people. She specified that the people she talked to by phone neither mentioned Ilan Sor, nor denied that the actual beneficial owner of those TV stations was the Mayor of Orhei. “People working for Sor called me in the past two days and offered me work at the TV stations that this ‘Jesus of Orhei’ is about to open. (...) It is low and shameful to work for a person that robbed the whole country” the journalist wrote on her Facebook page.

A colleague of Alina’s – Cristina Ursachi, who also works for Jurnal TV, said that she was contacted by people working for Sor too and was also offered work at those TV stations. She answered via a Facebook post that she was not interested in an offer of that kind.

Euro TV and Orhei TV manager, Dumitru Chitoroaga, confirmed for Media-azi.md that the management of the TV stations is seeking to staff the editorial teams by hiring about 30-40 people in both TV stations. According to him, there are 10 positions available for journalists, with the other vacancies being meant for technical staff and anchors. He specified that the headquarters of the editorial offices will be in Orhei, and that the reorganisation of the TV stations will end around October-November. Dumitru Chitoroaga also said that the changes that are underway at present have nothing to do with the politician Ilan Sor or his party, which was the same thing the latter himself said a while ago.

Screenshot Facebook.

‘Moral Support’ and Trade Contracts Too

Dumitru Chitoroagă said that the support he received from Ilan Sor was rather of a moral nature. He also recalled a ‘productive collaboration’ from back in 2015 with Milsami football club from Orhei, the Director of which is Ilan Sor.

To be more specific, Euro TV received funds form that football club which enabled the transmission from abroad of international competitions that the members of Milsami participated in. ‘I shared with you an example of collaboration and I find this support absolutely normal for a television station that incurs such expenses. (...) I am ready to accept another collaboration of this kind if there’ll be one offered because this is not about politics, it is about culture, sports and many other things. Believe me, it is not only politics that people want to see on TV, but many other beautiful things happening in Orhei too, why wouldn’t they. This is done via a Trade Contract’, said Chitoroaga.

The Euro TV and Orhei TV manager also claimed that he was ready to show all the accounting records to prove that he has not received any shadowy funds over the past four years.


Sursa Foto: Milsami.md

The Transfiguration of Euro TV

Chitoroaga also mentioned that at the end of August, he filed with the Audiovisual Coordination Council (BCC) a request to change the name of Euro TV, but he refused to tell us what the name of the institution will be before the matter is looked into by the BCC.

Lia Gutu, the head of the Division General for Licensing, Authorising and Monitoring of the BCC, told Media-azi.md that the matter of changing the name of Euro TV will be discussed at the next meeting which will, most likely, take place at the beginnig of the next week.

‘The Editorial Policy Will Not Change’

When asked whether the changes were a consequence of the current political and electoral context, Dumitru Chitoroaga strongly denied it. He believes that if it was about the elections, then those TV stations would have been reorganised a much longer time ago, and not in the homestretch. ‘We didn’t participate in the last elections, for instance’, argued Chitoroaga.

He went on to say that the management will continue to broadcast some commercial coverages, but that ‘the editorial policy of the stations will not change.’


Dumitru Chitoroaga, introduced as proxy for Sor Political Party in Chisinau Municipality, districts of Botanica and Centru. 27 July 2018, Chisinau. Photo source: Facebook

‘The Parliamentary Elections are the Target of the Reorganisations’

Petru Macovei – the Secretary of the Press Council and the Executive Director of the Association of Independent Press (API), is sure, however, that the two television stations are undergoing reorganisations particularly because of the Parliamentary Elections scheduled for the beginning of the next year.  ‘This whole story tells us noting new. Other existing holdings – the one owned by Mr Plahotniuc and the one owned by Mr Dodon, have expanded recently, targeting, most certainly, the Parliamentary Elections. The holding of Mr Plahotniuc has established several sub-editorial offices in charge of promoting future candidates running in the first-past-the-post constituencies’ he argued.

The media expert believes that these job offers coming from politically-affiliated media institutions are meant to test the integrity of journalists.
 

‘The politicians always tend to invest a lot in bribing journalists when elections are coming, and I am very happy to see there are journalists who do not let it happen. Some people, though, go for this compromise, but although it brings along some profit, such compromises do not last. One’s journalistic reputation is far more important than the few thousands of Euros that one can earn as a journalist in an electoral campaign’ explained Petru Macovei.

According to the API’s Executive Director, working for politicians is against professional deontology which requires journalists to be balanced and equidistant. ‘Journalists were often used indirectly by the politicians in denigration campaigns. The journalists involved in such schemes lost credibility after that, which is why one should think it through very well before making a decision about such a matter’ Petru Macovei argued.