The Audiovisual Council’s ordinance saying the presenters/moderators and the editors during the state of emergency should unilaterally give up presenting and groundlessly favoring the own opinion and the free formation of arbitrary opinions in covering subjects that refer to the COVID-19 pandemic is an infringement of the right to information, the leader of the Action and Solidarity Party Maia Sandu stated in the talk show “Emphasis on Today” on TVR Moldova channel.
“This is an improper decision of our government. When such a decision is taken, the government’s credibility cannot improve. It is important for the authorities to be trusted so that the citizens follow their recommendations. The authorities discredit themselves further. This is an improper decision in terms of confidence building and from the angle of the freedom of expression,” stated Maia Sandu.
The Audiovisual Council’s chairman Dragoș Vicol said the given ordinance is aimed not at imposing censorship, but at correctly informing the people.
“The unfounded assertions should be based on documents, evidence. If the own opinion is not substantiated and is not based on value judgments, it should not be stated. This ordinance bans the moderator from favoring unfounded and own opinions,” stated Dragoș Vicol.
He noted that if a journalist does not manage to obtain information from the authorities that in this period respond with delay or do not respond at all to requests for information, this is a bad journalist.
However, Maia Sandu said the opposition and society should exert pressure on the government as this is not transparent.
“They say that the doctors are trained, have equipment and are not exposed to risks. But we convince ourselves that the authorities are lying to us. One thing is to transmit the message of the authorities and another thing is to ban discussing the way in which the government acts to combat the pandemic. Civil society and we should exert pressure on the government when this lies. The situation is difficult, but the solution is not lying to us,” stated the politician.
The Audiovisual Council’s ordinance issued on March 25 provides that the presenters/moderators and the editors during the state of emergency should unilaterally give up presenting and groundlessly favoring the own opinion and the free formation of arbitrary opinions in covering subjects that refer to the COVID-19 pandemic both in national context and in foreign context, with the national and foreign competent public authorities (Commission for Exceptional Situations of Moldova, Government of Moldova, Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection, World Health Organization) being the only safe, truthful, impartial and balanced sources of information. This obligation derives from the necessity of ensuring the maximum accuracy and correctness of information, from the fact that the reports should be based on safe, sufficiently substantiated sources and have a credible and impartial approach to events.