Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Despite legal provisions protecting freedom of the press, the government often restricts these rights. Although libel is no longer punishable with imprisonment, courts can impose unlimited fines for libel convictions, promoting self-censorship. In July, the Russian-language newspaper Moldavskie Vedomosti was convicted of libeling the head of a state-owned company and ordered to pay $2,000. The newspaper appealed the ruling with the European Court for Human Rights, where it remained pending at year's end along with other similar cases. The Association for Independent Press filed lawsuits against the State Chancellery and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for being denied access to information and won. The Audiovisual Coordinating Council in October suspended the license of a media group to rebroadcast a Russian news channel. In February, independent television TV-26 and radio station Vocea Basarabiei filed a complaint against the council for violating broadcasting rules after it prohibited a planned merger to create a nationwide independent radio. The council is often criticized for its lack of independence.
During the run-up to the March elections, President Vladimir Voronin and the ruling Communist Party manipulated the media to ensure Voronin's reelection. The council increased the range of pro-government stations, and public broadcasters were biased in their coverage, while the Justice Ministry refused registration to opposition-run newspapers. Local organizations reported that state-financed institutions were told to subscribe to state-influenced publications. Following international pressure, the Central Election Commission revised the electoral regulations and increased public airtime for opposition members. However, the new regulations were approved only two weeks before the elections.
In the separatist Transnistria region, media are restricted and politicized. There are few independent outlets; most are controlled, owned, or funded by the Transnistrian authorities. In February, Moldovan authorities on the border stopped newspaper deliveries going in and out of Transnistria. Print media are required to register with the local Ministry of Information instead of the Moldovan authorities.
Print media were able to express diverse political and public views throughout the year. Broadcast media were weaker, as there is little private local broadcasting and most programs are rebroadcast from either Romania or Russia. Most private media are dependent on government subsidies since foreign funding is prohibited. However, publications were able to receive funds through foundations created by foreign governments. The government frequently used financial measures to harass the media. In June, financial police officers ransacked the offices of a Russian-language weekly. The government-owned Teleradio Moldova continued its transformation into a public broadcaster. There were reports of politically motivated dismissals, and the broadcaster maintained a bias toward the government. Foreign publications were available in low circulation. Authorities do not control internet access, although internet services are limited owing to an underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure.