Monopolization of mass media market – the course to power usurpation in Moldova

Possible adoption of the scandalous amendments to the Code on Television and Radio by the parliament of Moldova on the eve of the presidential elections in the country is subject for serious concern of the international community.

Contrary to the assurances of the ruling coalition, as well as the Moldova parliament president Andrian Candu, asserting that the document is to yet pass through the reconciliation procedure involving international experts and civil community, there is real anxiety over the adoption, at the final reading, of the Democratic and Liberal parties' legislative initiative providing for the ban on retransmission of the Russian informational and analytical TV programs. According to one of the bills, all the channels, including those transmitted from abroad, are to deliver '100% domestic informational and analytical programs, while 80% of them have to be in the Romanian language'. There are special sanctions stipulated by the bill – starting with $2-3 thousand fines and ending with withdrawal of the broadcasting license - for infringement of this provision.

Not only opposition leaders in Moldova but also the OSCE and Council of Europe experts have repeatedly rebuffed the idea of mass media market monopolization in Moldova as totally inadmissible. In particular, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović made it absolutely clear for the leadership of the Republic that the amendments to the Code on Television and Radio approved by the parliament at the first reading contradicted international standards and threatened freedom of speech and information in the country. The OSCE representative expressed her hope for the amendments to be reconsidered. Tough criticism of the legislative initiatives initiated by Democrats and Liberals was also voiced on part of the deputies representing Gagauzia, an autonomous region of Moldova. They believe that the suggested amendments do not serve the goal of 'ensuring the safe informational space of the Republic' and 'boosting the number of the domestically produced programs'. Moreover, the amendments amount to gross violation of the Constitution, as well as of the norms stipulated in the Law on the Use of Languages on the Territory of the Republic of Moldova and the Law on the Rights of National Minorities. In fact they lead to depriving the Russian speaking population of the access to the alternative information in their native language. Nevertheless, the ruling coalition keeps to 'hushing up' all those critical observations and warnings.

Thus, the leadership of the Democratic Party controlled by the tycoon Plahotniuc, and the Liberal Party leaders speaking in support of the merger engaging Moldova and Romania and blaming the 'Moscow hand' in all the own misfortunes, are nearing the realization of their main goal – the 'cleaned up' media space in the Republic of Moldova to manipulate the social opinion in wake of the presidential election campaign.