(osce) - The Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Ambassador Louis O'Neill, said today he was worried about the recent disruption of broadcasting at the Chisinau radio station Antena-C, reports Trend.
"We are extremely concerned about the interruption of Antena-C's broadcasting signal, which deprives people in Chisinau and in large parts of Moldova of an important alternative source of information and analysis," O'Neill said.
"I urge all those involved to ensure that Antena-C gets back on the air without further delay and guarantee that the station can offer its listeners comprehensive and balanced programming that respects the principles of pluralism and freedom of expression."
Antena-C's broadcasting signal was interrupted Saturday afternoon. Authorities said the cut was caused by a technical problem at the radio relay. The signal was cut during a live radio debate about current developments at the station.
"It is striking that such a serious technical problem appeared at the precise moment when views critical of the way the station is being privatized were on the air," the Head of Mission said.
On December 14, the Chisinau Municipal Council decided to put Antena-C and Euro TV Chisinau up for tender and to dismiss the directors of both institutions. The broadcasters are being privatized as outlined in the new broadcasting code.
Journalists at both stations began an organized protest on 15 December against this decision. Late that evening, police entered Antena-C's building and told the radio station's staff to evacuate because of a bomb threat.
"The Mission member present at the scene saw neither ambulances, bomb detection units nor any other special precautionary measures which one might expect in the case of a bomb alarm," Ambassador O'Neill said.
He recalled a similar case in August 2004 when journalists at Teleradio Moldova, who were protesting the way the then-state company was being reorganized into a national public broadcaster, were removed from the company's main building by police units, allegedly due to a bomb threat. It later turned out to be a false alarm.
Antena-C employees were allowed to return on Monday, but the station's broadcasting was limited to Chisinau's outdated radio cable network, which has been interrupted several times since Saturday.
In a recent joint statement on the reform of the Moldovan broadcasting sector, the OSCE Mission and ten embassies and international missions accredited in Moldova urged all those involved in the re-organization process of Antena-C and Euro-TV to find a solution that would ensure the continued functioning of both broadcasters, drawing on their experienced staff.