The BCC observing national and
international regulations in the case of the public notification concerning the
speech of the program “Poveşti cu măşti” (Tales with Masks), broadcasted by the
NIT TV station
On 17 April, 2008, the Broadcasting Coordinating Council (BCC)
publicly discussed whether to include into the order of the day the
controversial issue concerning the program “Poveşti cu măşti” (Tales with
Masks) of the NIT TV station. Debating
that matter was publicly announced for the BCC’s sitting of April 8, a sitting
that never took place. In the sitting of April 17, however, following the
proposal of a BCC member to include into the order of the day the issue
concerning “Poveşti cu măşti”, they invoked the fact that the issue had already
been discussed within an internal sitting at which, seemingly, the BCC members
did not plead to include the issue into the sitting’s agenda. Anyway, the
proposal was subjected to voting and was rejected by 5 votes against 3.
Thus, after the public had drawn the
attention of the authors of the project “Poveşti cu măşti” to going beyond
certain limits of the legal and ethical norms in terms of televised expression,
after the Parliament’s Steady Bureau expressly discussed the case of „Poveşti cu
măşti”, after some BCC members publicly spoke about the necessity to debate
this issue at a sitting of the broadcasting regulator, the decision was taken
through a simple voting, the BCC shirking its exclusive tasks and duties.
of expression is the foundation of a democratic society, still it is not an
absolute right. This freedom ends where it unjustly violates others’ rights.
The Declaration on freedom of political debate in
the media, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the
Council of Europe on February 12, 2004, stipulates: “Pluralist
democracy and freedom of political debate require that the public is informed
about matters of public concern, which includes the right of the media to
disseminate negative information and critical opinions concerning political
figures and public officials, as well as the right of the public to receive
The same Declaration
however stipulates as an essential principle that “the humorous and satirical genre, as protected by Article 10 of the
Convention, allows for a wider degree of exaggeration and even provocation, as long as the public is not misled about
circumstances in which the controversies on the verge of „Poveşti cu măşti” have
become a topic of public debate, naturally, the BCC should have acted ex
officio. Contrary to that logic, deriving from the provisions of national and
international law, the BCC refused to consider the correspondence of the
program “Poveşti cu măşti” with the legal and ethical standards.
program is produced in the humorous and satirical genre, which allows the
authors an exaggerated degree of imagination and even provocation, but it also
imposes on them a wide degree of responsibility as to the truthfulness of the
satirized facts. To the same degree obvious is the fact that the program bears
a political connotation, the heroes of the “tales” being actors on the Moldovan
political arena. In such a situation, the tales’
authors, the TV station enter the scope of the Broadcasting Code’s provisions
concerning balance, equidistance, impartiality and, evidently, observance of
the norms concerning the human rights established in the international treaties
Moldova is part to.
of the possibility of the broadcasters’ deviating from legal and ethical frames,
the BCC adopted a Broadcasters Behavior Code, while in the case studied, its
being observed is taken care of neither by the BCC, nor by the broadcaster.
months after adopting the Broadcasters Behavior Code, which emphasizes “the major role of the radio and the television
in forming the personal attitudes of citizens, of the public opinion and in developing the democratic society, the
ethical responsibility of broadcasters to citizens and to society, in general”,
the BCC publicly shirked from taking an attitude towards the controversial
issue of “Poveşti cu măşti”.
respect, we may quote several commitments taken by broadcasters as suggested by
their Behavior Code:
Art.1. The broadcasters have the primordial duty to report the truth, regardless
of the consequences it may have on them, this obligation pours from the
public’s constitutional right to be informed justly, fully and adequately. Basing
on this right, the broadcasters are bound to tell only fully verified facts.
„Art.2. The broadcasters have the obligation to make a clear distinction
between facts and opinions, so as not to confuse them. In reporting facts and
opinions, the journalists will act with good faith and will not present their
opinions as facts.
Art.4. Informing on matters of public interest, concerning politics, economy,
society and culture, should pursue to insure the impartiality, the balance and
to favor the free formation of opinions, by presenting the viewpoints of all
the parties involved, and, if it is the case, the main opposing viewpoints.
Art.7. The broadcaster, which intentionally distorts the information, makes
groundless accusations, illegally uses photos, video images and other sources, or
slanders, commits professional deviation of maximum severity.
Art.16. Any person has the right to own image. In case, in broadcasts, they
accuse a person of illegal or immoral facts and behaviors, those shall be
backed up with evidence, as the accused persons have the right to intervene to
express their viewpoints. If the accusation are made by the broadcaster, it is
obliged to ask for the viewpoint of the accused person.
that on the basis of these provisions of the Broadcasters Behavior Code, but
especially taking into account the opinions of a range of Moldovan
personalities demanding for an attitude on behalf of the BCC, the theme “Poveşti
cu măşti” could have served as a wide topic to be discussed within the BCC.
circumstances, the BCC voted not to start the debates on that matter on April 17.
Through its decision not to publicly
debate and not take a decision in a conflict between program consumers and a
broadcaster, the BCC ignored its tasks and duties concerning:
the defense of program consumers to receive correct and objective information, which
would contribute to the free formation of the opinion;
the observance of the way in which broadcasters fulfill their legal duties;
periodically or on notification, the content of the program services offered by
broadcasters, as to not observing legal provisions;
the correctness of the contents of the programs offered by broadcasters;
the observance of pluralistically expressing ideas and opinions within the
programs aired by broadcasters;
the human dignity;
programs containing licentious speech.
Also, through its decision to reject
the examination of a matter of public interest, the BCC ignored the
international accords and treaties Moldova is part to.
The BCC, in
its capacity of autonomous public authority, does not permanently assume responsibility
for the implementation and observance of the Broadcasting Code, of its own
decisions, of international treaties on broadcasting Moldova is part to.
The BCC, in
its capacity of a representative, but also of a guarantor of the public
interest in broadcasting, avoids to involve in solving conflicts between
program consumers and broadcasters, assuming the responsibility of its
decisions on the basis of the law.
consequence, we consider the lack of response as to the public notifications
concerning the program “Poveşti cu măşti” implies that the BCC, through its
relation of votes, has demonstrated subordination to political control, further
promoting double standards, when a category of broadcasters are
disproportionately sanctioned for admitted violations, while another category
of broadcasters are favored with the price of the honor and image of the public
authority regulating the broadcasting.