Case Study. EuTV, Monitor, 11 August, 21.00 14.08.2009
The news story, dedicated to the decision of the Constitutional Court to accept to consider the PPCD’s notification through which this political party demanded to recount the votes of the July 29 elections, unveils the passionate and unilateral approach of the topic.
Lately, and especially during electoral and post-electoral terms, broadcasters approach subjects generating controversial opinions on the part of the political actors. Meanwhile, the professional norms and the legal acts require impartial and balanced treatment on the part of media. It’s worth reminding in this context that point 4, letter “c” from article 7 of the Broadcasting Code stipulates that, in order to observe the political-social balance, equidistance and objectiveness, the broadcasters shall broadcast every news story so that “in the case of stories covering conflict situations, the principle of informing from several sources shall be respected”.
EuTV treated the PPCD’s notification on the basis of a single documentation source
The analyzed TV material falls directly into the scope of this provision at least because of two reasons. The first one consists in the fact that the story refers to a topic, assessed in different ways by the electoral contestants (the question is about the results of the early parliamentary elections of 29 July.) A proof in this respect is for instance the PPCD’s notification to recount the votes. “Up to now, other parties have not sent similar notifications to the Constitutional Court,”EuTV finds. Consequently, one can suppose those parties have other views or do not have sufficient objections to become joined with the PPCD’s idea. Those circumstances can cause, if not a conflict situation, then at least a situation marked by dissentions, certainly. That is why it was necessary to present the views of other parties on the approached issue.
The timeliness to consult multiple sources is also dictated by the accusations of duplicity and immorality brought against some political parties, albeit indirectly: “We are astonished by this double-standard policy, which is actually immoral, of the ones having complained about the violations from April 5 and, now here are the elections of 29 July, at which very many violations of the election law are signaled, very clear arguments are brought about and they say nothing.” The idea was taken byEuTV from the speech of Radu Buşilă, the PPCD’s representative at the Central Election Commission (CEC), and it causes, in our opinion, a conflict situation. Although, the mentioned professional norms and legal provisions require balancing the opinions in such situations, EuTV left the hint made by the PPCD representative at the CEC without reply. Different or opposing views could have also come on the part of the CEC, of local and international experts accredited for the July 29 poll.
EuTV, in treating the PPCD’s notification on the basis of a single source, shows itself engaged in promoting it and, consequently, unveils its imbalanced treatment of the issue.
EuTV passionately tackled the topic of the story
The disproportionate character of EuTV’s news story is strengthened by the open biasness displayed by this station. This is shown right in the message of the news presenter: “The Constitutional Court accepted the notification of the People’s Christian-Democratic Party, which requests to recount the votes of the July 29 elections. The PPCD comes with reasoned evidence, which shows that the early elections took place with serious violations of the law. One of them is that, at the July 29 poll, mysteriously disappeared over 3,000 ballots. The issue is to be discussed on Friday in a public sitting of the Constitutional Court.” (underlined by the author – e.n.) The estimating attitude is repeated in the text of the correspondent (“The irregularities and violations signaled by the PPCD at the poll of July 29 are the gravest ever registered, the Christian-Democrats say. The PPCD comes with evidence (? – n.a.) in this regard and submitted a notification to the Constitutional Court on 6 August” (underlined by authors of case study.) The totality of the used qualifiers displays, in our opinion, EuTV’s determination to join the idea of the notification of this political party.
To conclude with, we’ll find that the story aired by EuTV supplies enough evidence unveiling an attitudinal-biased approach to the detriment of the equidistant approach of a subject of public interest, and using but a single information source in a conflict situation diminishes its value and unveils the station’s deviation from the provisions of the Broadcasting Code. Seemingly, EuTV thus continues the practice it used during the election race for the July 29 parliamentary elections. Then, the personalized and institutionalized political actors representing the PPCD were covered in exclusively positive contexts, and in 146 cases of 305 conflict-related stories, EuTV resorted to just a single information source (see: http://apel.md/public/upload/md_13_Raport_Monitor_FINAL_rom.pdf).
The Videomonitor is produced in the Project “Monitoring the political/electoral actors’ presence on the main television channels during the electoral campaign for the early parliamentary elections in Moldova in 2009 and enhancing the impact of the monitoring by depicting the cases of severe violation of legal provisions and professional ethics.” This project is financially supported by the Eurasia Foundation from the resources provided by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of the commentary do not necessarily share the views of the Eurasia Foundation, SIDA or USAID.