Freedom House Report 2017: Moldovan Media Retain the Status of Partly Free

Freedom House Reportfreedom house2 on freedom of the press gives Moldova 56 points out of 100, like in the previous year. According to the report, our media remain partly free. The document also refers to the problems faced by the media in Moldova, examining the situation in the political, legal, and economic environment.

Speaking of the legal environment, the report finds that compliance with the law on access to information remains lacking, while laws on the funding of electoral campaigns hinder journalists’ access to information, including to candidates’ financial statements.

A problem stated in the report is that the members of the Broadcasting Coordinating Council (BCC), appointed by the Parliament, are subject to political influence. At the same time, according to the authors of the report, the BCC “does not always effectively enforce media regulations.” It is argued by the fact that the BCC media monitoring operations “did not commence in a timely manner, and it [the BCC] had not respected the proper procedures for issuing sanctions” during presidential elections in 2016.

Also, the draft law known as “Big Brother,” approved by the Government, could facilitate censorship and state surveillance of journalists, according to the report.

One of the problems in the political environment, as shown in the report, is that media outlets are regularly used to promote the business or political interests of their owners. In this sense, the paper mentions the monitoring reports produced by the Independent Journalism Center concerning the media coverage of the presidential elections in 2016, which found that “partisan coverage, as well as defamation and disinformation, had contributed to an unfair playing field for the candidates.”

In the section of economic environment it is mentioned that the majority of national television and radio broadcasters are private property, just like the majority of news agencies and many newspapers.

The report says that private media remain dependent on financial subsidies from their owners as well as affiliated businesses and political groups, rather than from market-driven advertising and subscriptions. The allocation of state advertising and subsidies is poorly regulated and often nontransparent, allowing government agencies to favor certain media outlets.

Also, small, local media outlets have difficulty obtaining advertising revenue and competing against the numerous outlets that are owned by oligarchs and are better funded, the report says.
Freedom House rated Moldovan media partly free in 2002 and 2003, not free between 2004 and 2010, and again partly free in 2011 to 2017.