The answer of the CCA to the open letter published by Jurnal TV

Lun ,Martie 24, 2014 - 10:05

            The Coordinating Council of Audiovisual denies the groundless accusations made by the TV channel Jurnal TV in the open letter of 21 March 2014.

            The supervision of audiovisual communication principles, as it is set out in the Audiovisual Code, is one of the tasks of the CCA and cannot be qualified as " censorship" or " unprecedented attack " on any TV channel, much less over the channel Jurnal TV, only because this time (the third time after two previous unsanctioned violations) CCA has applied a public warning for the noted derogations.

            The sanctioning decision of 19 March 2014 was applied not only for the violations noted in the recent monitoring session, but also for the deviations that were found previously, and for which the CCA did not apply any sanction, but just warned Jurnal TV and recommended not to break the rules, and to make reports in accordance with the law and in compliance with the main principles of a free and democratic press.

            Three monitoring reports on the same article, which were examined during 2013, as well as five complaints and notifications coming from individuals, legal persons and civil society regarding the violation of socio-political pluralism, human dignity, the right to reply etc., made by the TV channel Jurnal TV, could have been a good opportunity to sanction at least eight times Jurnal TV. This thing didn’t happen, and this fact shows that the CCA has no intention to commit the actions of which it is accused in the open letter ("the haunting intention of the CCA to monitor and penalize Jurnal TV at any cost"). As a result of the above-mentioned things, we qualify this accusation as baseless and absurd.

            In all monitoring sessions Jurnal TV was not the only TV channel which was monitored, but there were also monitored and other nine TV channels: Moldova 1, Prime, Canal 3, 2 Plus, N 4, Accent TV, Publika TV, TV 7, PRO TV Chişinău.

            As for "a series of actions to suppress" or "the obsession to punish at any cost Jurnal TV", please note that in 2013, this TV channel was sanctioned by the CCA only one time, with a fine, because it violated the provisions related to the protection of children, broadcasting at 19.50 the movie The Tudors which contains multiple sex scenes, violence and bloody images. For the refusal to change the broadcasting time after 22.00, as the legislation requires, Jurnal TV was forced to do it by a decision issued by the CCA in 2012. At the same time, it should be mentioned that Jurnal TV challenged this decision of the CCA in court. The court suspended the action of the decision, the Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Jurnal TV, and the Supreme Court is to pronounce its decision. De jure, in 2013, this TV channel had no sanction, and in this case, the accusations regarding the persecution of the Jurnal TV by the courts are unfounded.

            In this context, it is very important to come with some detailed specifications:

  • During 2013, a total of 34 sanctions (29 public warnings and 4 fines) were applied by the CCA to several TV channels for various categories of misconduct.
  • The most of the sanctions were applied to the following TV channels: PRO TV (4 public warnings and 2 fines); TV 7 (4 public warnings); RTR Moldova (3 public warnings and 1 fine); PRIME TV (3 public warnings); Ren Moldova (3 public warnings); CTC Mega, Bravo TV, TVC 21, Accent TV, Elita TV, Flor TV, Primul Canal Muzical-Distractiv de Alternativa, Muzica TV, Sor TV, Info Channel, Ru TV Moldova, Aici TV - one public warning each.
  • It should be mentioned that for derogations to article 7, regarding the balance and socio-political pluralism, there was applied a single public warning to the TV channel Access TV.

            We reiterate that the CCA, carries out only twice a year monitoring sessions on the compliance with article 7, with exception for electoral campaign periods. The sanctions during the public meeting from 19 March 2014 were applied after multiple warnings, (after 2 requests to comply with the legal framework, and with regard to Jurnal TV and Accent TV, the public warning was applied twice, although the legal norm admits a tougher penalty, a fine, for a repeated derogation). Thus, we wonder, if a single sanction applied to Jurnal TV and Accent TV during the year, (compared with other TV channels that have 4-6 sanctions), and if sanctioning Jurnal TV with a warning after repeated violations (three times), can be a compelling evidence for the accusations that the sanctions were applied based on political criteria for these TV channels.

            During 2013, the CCA received five complaints and notifications from different subjects, for which Jurnal TV became the object of examination by the CCA. Thus, the Association for "Copyright and Related Rights” from Moldova, the National Opera and Ballet Theater “Maria Bieşu”, the Străşeni Court, the Administration of the State University "Alecu Russo" from the municipality Bălţi and Mr. Alexandru Lomachin accused Jurnal TV of infringement of the legal norms relating to audiovisual communication.

            Although the CCA found some deviations from the legislation, it didn’t apply any sanction, but only recommended Jurnal TV to comply with legal standards, and advised the petitioners to use of their right to reply.

            From all those details related above, it can be inferred the conclusion that "the concerns" of Jurnal TV that the “Coordinating Council of Audiovisual monitors continuously the activity of Jurnal TV, and this fact is shown in multiple monitoring, which were carried out under various reasons, which are documented for previous periods" are groundless, because in 2013 there were performed not "multiple", but only two monitoring sessions on the compliance with the balance and socio-political pluralism. The CCA "continuously monitors" not only the activity of Jurnal TV, but also the activity of other TV channels (10 channels in the monitoring sessions).

            As for the accusations from the last paragraphs regarding the failure of the monitoring procedure, it is another disinformation made in the Jurnal TV style. Each monitoring session is carried out after the audiovisual communication has occurred and can be carried out for any period which is not older than 3 months.

            With regard to the period of monitoring, please note that neither the Audiovisual Code nor other provisions of the national and international broadcasting legislation does not provide periods during which the audiovisual communication must be equidistant and pluralistic, and in which it should not be respected the pluralism of opinions and the principle of information from many sources in conflicting issues.

            The public warning was applied for the lack of information from both sources in the case of conflict issues. The CCA doesn’t apply sanctions for expressing critical opinions.

            The CCA does not apply and has never applied sanctions to any TV station or Radio station for criticism of the Government or of the public institutions, public officials, and other State institutions, but on the contrary, the CCA encouraged and stated many times that it is one of the obligations of the journalists, and this thing must be done in compliance with democratic rules. The criticisms shall be made in accordance with the facts, documents, and investigative journalistic materials.

            At the same time, the CCA expresses its regret that the OSCE representatives have not requested the information during the meeting from 17 March 2014 regarding the monitoring made on socio-political pluralism, or the applied sanctions for those TV channels which they consider in opposition.

            We agree with the OSCE representative that audiovisual regulatory authority should not serve the political interests, apply censorship and allow the interference in the editorial policy of the broadcasters. These principles are strictly observed by the Coordinating Council of Audiovisual from the Republic of Moldova, which has the obligation to oversee the legality in the content programme services. A the same time, the Audiovisual Code does not provide any exception to its provisions neither for the TV channels which are in opposition, nor for the TV channels with a transmission by cable. In this way, all TV channels must comply with the legal norms, including article 7. The supervision of compliance with the legislation by the broadcasters under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Moldova, as well as their sanctioning in case of some noted derogations, is not censorship or political interests service, but it is a duty of the regulatory authority which is prescribed by law; the audiovisual regulatory authorities from the European Community have the same duty.

            As a result of the above mentioned information, we respectfully ask Jurnal TV :

  1. To respect the principle of socio-political balance, equidistance and objectivity so that:

            a) the information presented in newscasts to be truthful;

            b) the sense of reality shouldn’t be distorted through editing tricks, comments, formulations or titles;

            c) to respect the principle of information from many sources, in the case of subjects related to conflict situations.

  1. To stop manipulating and misinforming the public opinion, that it is the victim of an "unprecedented attack" (the information that does not reflect the reality).

            Even if under the pretext of freedom of expression there are made serious accusations, pressure and intimidation of the CCA members, the audiovisual regulatory authority will not invoke its right to appeal in court, being based on the fact that its activity is transparent and that both the public and the interested institutions will be correct documented and will take into account the real facts and not the manipulating opinions shared by Jurnal TV.