Freedom of the Press
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)
The government often infringes on legally guaranteed press freedoms. Libel is no longer punishable by imprisonment, and legislation was passed in July aimed at capping previously unlimited fines in libel cases. An existing Access to Information Law permits legal residents of Moldova to request information or documents from state entities without an explanation, but draft legislation affecting transparency in the decision making of public authorities was still under consideration in 2006. In March, after neglecting to involve civil society in the development of a draft audiovisual code, Moldova’s Parliament made the draft available for public comment and passed it in July. Media watchdogs commended the government for trying to bring Moldovan law in line with international standards. However, they also expressed various concerns, warning in part that the draft code’s proposed broadcast regulatory body should not, as suggested, also act as a supervisory body for the public service broadcaster. In Moldova, any person has the freedom to become a journalist, and journalists do not require accreditation for exercising their profession, but the Press Law gives authorities the right to introduce required accreditation if they believe it to be necessary. A new Chisinau School of Advanced Journalism opened in September, offering a one-year program in print and broadcast journalism leading to certificates signed by the Independent Journalism Center and the U.S.-based Missouri School of Journalism.
President Vladimir Voronin’s government controls the public company Teleradio Moldova, which is the only national public company and includes one radio station and one television channel, and censorship is reportedly imposed on the stations. Owners of both state-run and private media continue to promote self-censorship, and many journalists avoid controversial issues that might cost them their jobs or draw libel suits, particularly when investigating issues of corruption. Journalists tend to be divided along political lines, reflecting the viewpoint of either the authorities or the opposition. In September, after the Romanian television station Pro-TV broadcast reports that were highly critical of the Moldovan interior minister, ministry officials arrested Ghenadie Braghis, a sales director of the Chisinau branch of Pro-TV. They denied him access to legal counsel and accused him of seeking a US$1,000 bribe from a client to seal an advertising deal. After publishing articles related to crime and corruption in Moldova’s legal system, journalists from the Chisinau-based weekly newspaper Ziarul de Garda reported pressure from various state entities in October.
In the separatist Transnistria region, media are sharply restricted and politicized. Most news outlets are controlled, owned, or funded by the Transnistrian authorities. Print media in Transnistria are required to register with the local Ministry of Information rather than the Moldovan government.
Moldova’s 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. However, in a particularly serious transgression of the need for open public broadcasting following the passage of the new audiovisual code, Radio Antena C and Euro TV, the public municipal stations, were privatized in a process that was not open to public scrutiny. Most private media are dependent on funds they receive through foundations created by foreign governments. The government frequently uses financial measures to harass the media, such as dissuading business owners from advertising in independent outlets. Foreign publications were available in limited quantities. Authorities do not control internet access, although internet services are limited to roughly 15 percent of the population owing to an underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure.