At first glance, Moldova offers a pluralistic media landscape. But there are three serious problems: 1) Western European democratic-capitalist traditions are not yet sufficiently anchored in society. Moreover, the media are 2) neither financially nor 3) politically truly independent. This is also evident in the press market: all newspapers and magazines are run privately. Most of them are GmbHs, which finance themselves mainly through advertising. However, since the Moldovan advertising market is relatively small, many media struggle with financing problems. They are dependent on investors and thus come under the control of money-giving parties or private stakeholders. However, they are less interested in commercial gain than in securing their social influence.
Note: This and all other information in the article does not apply to the autonomous region of Transnistria, which is not under Moldovan government.
Concentration of the press market
Although Moldova is one of the smallest and poorest countries in Europe8 , the media market there is booming. While the Hans Bredow Institute still expected “more than 200 newspapers and magazines ” in 2009, the number doubled to 400 by 2014. This development is surprising given that print is no longer one of the most popular information media in Moldova either. In 2010, only 2.1 percent of citizens trusted the press.
There is a Romanian-speaking and a Russian-speaking market, and the determination of circulation figures is problematic: although the companies themselves publish data, there are no institutions that check this data. Although the press is struggling with financing problems and Internet use is steadily increasing, there is still no medium that publishes exclusively online. However, most newspapers and magazines have an online edition.
Organisation of broadcasting
Broadcasting is organised according to the dual system. The public broadcaster Teleradio Moldova (TRM) combines the stations Moldova 1 and Radio Moldova. In addition to national stations, TRM also offers an international TV and radio channel. These stations are financed by the state budget and advertising revenues [as of 2009]. There are also private commercial TV and radio stations.
Concentration of the broadcasting market
According to Freedom House, around 64 TV and 57 radio stations were operated in 2014. However, diversity does not automatically mean diversity in the broadcasting sector: the ownership structure of the stations is not transparent. However, it is assumed that most companies are owned and co-financed by parties or oligarchs. Unclear ownership can lead to hidden monopolies, so that balanced reporting becomes difficult. This is particularly problematic in the TV sector, as television is the leading medium in Moldova and is trusted by 67 percent of the population. The latest figures on the popularity of radio stations come from 2012, when Prime TV (49%), Moldova 1 (45%) and Pro TV (26%) were among the most popular television stations. Radio Noroc, Russkoe Radio and Radio Moldova are the most listened to.
Organization of the Internet
At the beginning of 2016, 48.8 percent of the population used the Internet and the trend is rising. According to a NetIndex study, Moldova was among the countries with the fastest Internet in 2013. Moldova has a very active blogging scene, there is an annual blogging contest that is designed to provide and promote an alternative forum for discussion and exchange of views.
Basic communicative order – freedom of press, opinion and information in…
…of constitutional theory
Freedom of expression and information is enshrined in Moldova’s constitution: Article 32 guarantees every citizen the freedom to express his views freely in words, pictures or other media. Unimpeded access to “information of public interest” is regulated by Article 34. Censorship is prohibited. Article 32 (3) is a barrier to the prohibition of censorship: it prohibits, inter alia, incitement of the people and the publication of information that endangers or defames the government. The problem is that these points are not specified more precisely in the law.
…the state laws
According to Article 26 of the Press Law, journalists can have their accreditations withdrawn as soon as they, among other things, express defamatory opinions about the state. The Broadcasting Act provides for a Broadcasting Council to monitor the implementation of the Broadcasting Code. It is made up of nine representatives of social groups appointed by Parliament. The lack of independence of the Broadcasting Council remains a major problem. The Broadcasting Board is also the supervisory board of TRM. Among other things, it determines the editorial guidelines of the broadcaster. The changed function of the media – away from the government’s propaganda mouthpiece and towards information, opinion-forming and control functions – has still not been sufficiently understood by Moldovans.
…the regulation of the press and broadcasting market
Every Moldovan citizen over the age of 18 has the right to establish media companies. These must be registered with the Ministry of Justice. Registration can be denied if, for example, content speaks against the “principles of the state” or offends “public morals “. This regulation gives the state scope for indirect censorship.
The operation of TV or radio stations is subject to licensing. This is issued by the Broadcasting Council. The licences are intended to safeguard pluralism and prevent the formation of monopolies. However, the ownership structure of the media is not transparent. In this respect, Moldovan law is vague: There, only the founder of a media company is mentioned, owners or partners are not mentioned in the law and do not have to be disclosed.
…the regulation of the Internet
Internet service providers may commence operations after having registered with the National Agency for Telecommunications and Information Regulation. The Internet in Moldova is largely free of regulation.