2 Jun 2022 19:08

Moldova passes legislation banning broadcasts of Russian news, military, political TV programs

CHISINAU. June 2 (Interfax) - The Moldovan parliament has passed legislation banning broadcasts of a number of Russian TV programs in the country.

The bill On Information Security was supported by members of the parliamentary faction of the ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), an Interfax correspondent reported.

The bill, which also envisions amendments to the Code of Audiovisual Services, bans "the retransmission on the radio and television of news, military, political, and analytical programs from countries that have not ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television." In addition, 50% of foreign programs broadcast by Moldovan TV channels must originate from EU countries, the United States, and signatories to said convention.

The legislation implies that Moldovan TV channels retransmitting Russian programs will be allowed only to show films, TV series, musical and entertainment programs. An identical ban had been imposed in Moldova in 2017 but was lifted at the end of 2020. After the start of the Russian special operation in Ukraine, the Emergency Situation Commission reinstated the ban for the period of the state of emergency. Now the ban has been codified at the legislative level.

The amendments also envision fines of up to 100,000 lei (5,000 euros) on broadcasters for disseminating disinformation on radio and TV. A repeated violation might be punished by a temporary ban of up to three months on placing ads on TV.

When the bill was considered at the second reading, it underwent some fundamental adjustments compared to its original version, which the parliamentarians had considered at the first reading in mid-April. In particular, removed from the amended bill were clauses expanding the Information and Security Service's powers in opposing disinformation and some other provisions, which were harshly criticized by the opposition and civil society.

As reported earlier, in view of the situation in Ukraine, the Moldovan parliament declared a state of emergency for 60 days starting February 24. After that, the Information and Security Service shut down a number of websites and banned the operation of the Sputnik Moldova agency and radio station in the country.