(www.osce.org) вЂ" The Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Ambassador Louis O'Neill, said today he was very concerned about recent negative developments in Moldova's broadcasting landscape.
"The broadcasting code adopted by the Moldovan Parliament in 2006 provided the country with an excellent opportunity for real progress in creating a free and vibrant broadcasting landscape. It is disappointing to see that this chance may be lost due to missteps in the way the new legislation is being implemented," Ambassador O'Neill said.
The comments were triggered by recent events surrounding the transformation of the Chisinau broadcasting institutions Radio Antena-C and Euro-TV Chisinau into private companies, reports Trend.
In December 2006, the OSCE Mission and ten diplomatic missions accredited in Moldova issued a joint statement urging all those involved in the reorganization of Antena-C and Euro-TV to find a solution that would ensure the continued functioning of both broadcasters, drawing on their experienced staffs. They further stressed that the reorganization should neither reduce pluralism in the county's media landscape nor deprive its citizens of access to comprehensive and impartial information and public services.
"The immediate reduction in news and information programming at Antena-C and the change in its broadcasting schedule following privatization, as well as the decision by its new owner to dismiss the station's deputy directors and to drastically reduce the number of journalists show a disregard for these recommendations," Ambassador O'Neill said.
The Head of Mission also expressed concern about the pace of reforms at Moldova's national public broadcaster, Teleradio Moldova.
"Teleradio Moldova has made almost no progress towards becoming a truly independent public service broadcaster since its formal transformation in August 2004," O'Neill said. "The newly elected Supervisory Board should lose no more time in initiating fundamental and visible changes in the way the broadcaster reflects public and political life in the country."
Referring to a recent decision by the Broadcasting Co-ordination Council not to give priority to an incumbent license holder during a recent frequency tender, but rather to award the license to a new company, O'Neill stressed the need for transparent decisions on all matters related to the licensing of broadcasting institutions.
"This decision should be explained and supported by compelling arguments to avoid the appearance of political or financial impropriety," O'Neill said. "Every effort should also be made to avoid dead air time during the transfer of frequencies, which deprives the Moldovan people of media access."