The sales manager of the Independent Press Association requested the Ministry of Health to pay 18 thousand lei to publish, in several regional newspapers, information on preventing the new type coronavirus from spreading, according to a reliable source within the ministry.
However, the representative of IPA said that their employees made a mistake and the Association would not charge money for publishing information on this sensitive topic.
The request was sent to the Ministry of Health from email firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the IPA website, this is Dorian Vieru, the IPA sales manager. The first message was sent on March 11. Dorian Vieru informed the representatives of the Ministry that IPA can publish the information about COVID-19 in several regional newspapers. The sales manager did not provide further details and requested a meeting to discuss the offer.
On the same day, the representative of the ministry replied that they would appreciate the support but specified this could be proceeded without the financial involvement. Answer from the IPA manager was that the free publication was impossible because the newspapers within the NGO were private.
Dorian Vieru also announced the Ministry of Health about their financial offer: the cost of a weekly publication of information on COVID-19 virus prevention, in A5 format, in 19 IPA newspapers, would be 18 138 lei.
Asked by Publika, the IPA executive director Petru Macovei said that officially no offer was made to the ministry despite the messages presented above. Macovei avoided saying frankly if such an offer was sent by the sales agent. He stated that this can only be done with the consent of the president of the Association.
"IPA collaborates with several sales agents who advertise newspapers for members of the association. They are prohibited from working with public institutions. Even if there was such an offer, I admit that one of the advertising managers tried to make money, as sales managers do. If I, as the director of the Association, had received such a proposal, it would have been definitely rejected", said Petru Macovei.
He also confirmed that Dorian Vieru knew about the prohibition on making financial offer to the public institutions.
"There was no such offer. Hypothetically, if it had existed it would have no purpose," said Petru Macovei.
On the other hand, IPA president Veaceslav Perunov acknowledges that the offer was sent.
"This email was sent automatically. The offer is standard and not updated".
Perunov also says he does not see a problem in the regional newspapers charging money from the ministry because the media publications survive the best they can.
"I don't see anything illegal in this regard that the newspapers charge money for publishing information. The mass media, especially regional ones, are facing difficult situation", Perunov said.
Publika recalls that our television has broadcast free information and TV shows on the measures to prevent COVID-19 and condemns the practices of media entities that contradict the public interest during the coronavirus pandemic.