A bill to amend the Code of Audiovisual Media Services and to restore parliamentary control over the public broadcaster Teleradio-Moldova was introduced into Parliament in mid-October. On October 26, the responsible parliamentary commission is to hold public debates on the bill. The subject was discussed in advance by the experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Return of Teleradio-Moldova under Parliament’s Oversight: pluses and minuses, benefits and risks”.
According to the standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan, Teleradio-Moldova is a public provider of media service, being a legal entity of public law founded as a public institution. It acts to satisfy a public interest, uses public funding, is not under the Government’s control and does not have a senior administrative authority above it. The broadcaster is subject to public control and presents a progress report in Parliament. The Audiovisual Media Services Code of the Republic of Moldova is the legal framework governing its activity. For its part, the Audiovisual Council is an autonomous authority that is independent from organizational viewpoint from any other entity and is responsible for the implementation of the Media Services Code. The Audiovisual Council is the guarantor of public interests in the broadcasting sector and has the duty to contribute to the development of audiovisual media services.
The public interests in the audiovisual sector represent the interests in ensuring pluralistic and objective informing of the population in the superior interest, in relation to the political, economic, commercial, biological and any other interests. The functioning of Teleradio-Moldova is ensured by a managerial board led by a director general. The company is managed by a Supervisory Board that, for its part, represents the public interests in relation to Teleradio-Moldova. The Supervisory Board works in its own name and contributes to building and developing the national public broadcaster according to the principles of the law. In accordance with the debated bill, some of the given notions will be modified.
According to Ion Bunduchi, executive director of the Electronic Press Association APEL, the current Media Services Code transposes the Council of Europe’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive adopted in 2010 to the national legislation. “The Code was adopted with a delay of eight years and took effect on January 1, 2019, which is they tried to implement the directive with a nine-year delay. No law is perfect and each of the laws can be improved, but what is essential is for the law to be improved, not vice versa. In this regard, I don’t know if it’s good to amend the law so that it no longer corresponds to the notions as the provider of public audiovisual media services is the one that works in the public interests and on public funds. If we change the equation, we must also change the definitions or make so that the definition and the legislation correspond,” stated Ion Bunduchi.
He noted that the notion of “radio broadcasters” was replaced with “service providers” as any radio station or TV channel offers not only linear services – what is broadcast live – but also non-liner services – what they have in their archives. For many years, emphasis has been placed on the archive, a kind of services at request. In Moldova, such a service is not popular. Those responsible for the implementation of the law should have been obliged to really implement it.
PAS MP Virgiliu Pâslariuc said the draft law on the Code of Audiovisual Media Services is a good bill that is not perfect, but that can be yet removed. It is a well-thought out and balanced law. The problematic aspects should be only adjusted.
“If particular things do not work, the lawmakers, society should improve it so that the law works. This is indeed a good law that will bring certain benefits if it works. The only problem is when there is no will and political will. In the Republic of Moldova, we often witness the absence of both of them,” he stated.
The MP said that by amending the law, they aim to remove the existing impediments so that the law is efficient and can work in the public interests, making the functionaries responsible before the public.
A representative of the Bloc of Communists and Socialists was also invited to the debate, but the invitation remained without an answer.
The public debate entitled “Return of Teleradio-Moldova under Parliament’s Oversight: pluses and minuses, benefits and risks” is the 210th installment of the project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.