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Media organisations express concern over broadcasting council's decision on election ads

(IJC/IFEX) - 16 September 2010 - The signatory NGOs herein express their disagreement with the Broadcasting Coordinating Council's (BCC) 15 September decision to sanction some media for broadcasting educational adverts on the day of the constitutional referendum on 5 September. The BCC issued a public warning to "Moldova 1"and "Publika TV" following a complaint filed by the Communist Party and the Social Democrat Party in which they challenged that the educational ads broadcast on the day of the referendum were detrimental to them. Their message to the public was to boycott the referendum by not going to polling stations.

We deem the BCC's decision an affront to the institution of democracy and its values - freedom of expression, freedom of information and the right to vote. Moreover, we believe that this decision amounts to a dangerous precedent for press freedom and its importance during election campaigns. According to the parties' complaint, the educational adverts encouraging people to participate in the voting process and exercise their constitutional right were deemed an act of "electioneering", which is prohibited on the day of voting. Whereas the Election Code provides that "electioneering" supposes an attempt to persuade people to vote for one or another candidate, which is not the case with the educational adverts broadcast by the two TV stations.

The BCC's decision contributes to the confusion of citizens about the exercise of the right to vote, as well as about the rights and obligations of political parties during the electoral campaign. We recall the position of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections that qualified the authorities' decision to allow the competing parties to encourage electoral non-participation among citizens as illegal.

We urge the BCC to review and repeal its decision of 15 September and to prove adherence to its legal commitments.

Signatory NGOs:
Independent Journalism Center
Independent Press Association
"Access-info" Center
Center for Investigative Journalism
Electronic Media Association

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