Media Situation in Moldova

After 23 years since Republic of Moldova re-gained its independence, the Moldovan media still face a series of problems that hinder the development of a free and independent press. A number of changes in media legislation, made in 2010 by the Moldovan Parliament, lead to upgrading the status of the media from "not free" to "partly free" in international media freedom rankings. However, since then, there were no more significant developments in this area that would have allowed Moldova to join countries with a free press.

According to the Press Freedom report released in 2013, the lack of significant progress is almost entirely explained by the status quo in domestic politics and in relevant legislation. Insufficient media freedom and independence have been cited as key shortcomings in the implementation of all action plans approved by Moldovan governments since 2009, when the democratic forces came to power replacing the Communist Party. Even though the democratic governments pledged for reforming legislation and supporting the development of an independent press, the authorities’ commitments were implemented only in proportion of 30 percent, with many of the provisions regarding media liberalization and freedom of expression remaining unresolved. These issues include reforming the public broadcaster, privatization of the state periodical, and de-monopolization of the media market by establishing a legal framework that would allow the disclosure of owners and investors of media outlets. Among other problems that the media have been facing are: pressure and intimidation from officials, difficult access to information of public interest, poor professionalism, etc.

During the past two decades only a few Moldovan media outlets have managed to get financial and, implicitly, political independence. According to Moldovan media experts, the main reasons for this situation reside in insufficient revenues and difficulties in attracting capital, in poor management and in the lack of fair competition in the advertising market. The quality of journalism is also affected by poor logistics which in turn are determined by a lack of funds. Most media are biased towards the government or certain political leaders. With few exceptions, journalists do not separate facts from opinion and do not give the audience the opportunity to create its own opinion based on balanced and fair information. Although explicit forms of state censorship are no longer a common practice in Republic of Moldova, the Moldovan press is subject to different forms of pressure that result in ethical principles’ violation and self-censorship. And this can affect the media’s ability to serve as a watchdog over the government activity. In this context it is worth mentioning that according to the Barometer of public opinion, issued by the Institute for Public Policies in April 2014, media in Moldova enjoy public trust with about 61 percent of the population saying they trust the media. 35 percent of population trust TV stations the most, 15 percent - the Internet, 7 percent - the radio and 3 percent - newspapers.

Nadine Gogu, Director of the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) in Chisinau