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)
Press freedom declined in 2007 as the government restricted independent news reporting in the months ahead of the June local elections. While the Moldovan government has made some attempts to comply with the requirements of European integration in recent years, enacting a number of democratic legal reforms, those reforms have not been properly implemented or enforced and media restrictions have continued.
Although the government often infringes on legally protected press freedoms, libel is for the most part no longer punishable by imprisonment, and in 2006 the parliament approved legislation designed to moderate excessive financial awards in libel cases. No new libel lawsuits were reported in 2007, partly because a series of judgments against journalists have been struck down by the European Court of Human Rights in recent years. The Strasbourg-based court found violations of freedom of expression in seven cases during 2007, most of them libel judgments involving articles that exposed government corruption. Journalists are often not able to get basic public information from the government because a number of officials continue to ignore an existing Access to Information Law.
In July, the nine members of the Audiovisual Coordinating Council, a broadcast media regulatory agency, voted to replace their progovernment chairman with a representative of the opposition. The government refused to recognize the vote, and two months later, authorities reportedly pressured the council to elect a different progovernment chairman. An audiovisual code approved by the parliament in 2006 was used in January 2007 to privatize and rein in two municipal media outlets in the capital, Chisinau, that had previously criticized the government in their news reports. In March, the ruling Communist Party and their Christian Democrat allies passed a law reducing the rebroadcasting of parliamentary debates on public television. This in turn decreased coverage of the political opposition in the months ahead of local elections.
President Vladimir Voronin’s government controls the country’s public broadcaster, Teleradio Moldova, whose radio and television news programs consistently favored progovernment candidates and ignored opposition candidates during local election campaigns. Owners of both state-run and private media houses continued to promote self-censorship, and police occasionally harassed journalists for reporting on politically embarrassing events. For example, in March, police officers in Chisinau arrested journalists with the television outlets Pro TV and DTV and confiscated their videotapes after they filmed police arresting peaceful protesters.
In the separatist Transnistria region, media are highly restricted and politicized. Most local broadcast media are controlled by the Transnistrian authorities or companies like Sheriff Enterprises, which are linked to the separatist regime. Several small opposition newspapers like Novaya Gazeta and Chelovek i Yevo Prava criticize abuses committed by the separatist authorities, and their journalists and advertisers are frequently harassed in response. Print media in Transnistria are required to register with the local Ministry of Information in Tiraspol rather than the internationally recognized Moldovan government in Chisinau.
Moldova’s print media were able to express diverse political and public views throughout the year. Only government-controlled broadcasters have national reach; there is little private broadcasting, and most programs are rebroadcasts from either Romania or Russia. Distribution of broadcast licenses and privatizations of state outlets are politicized, and the government also influences the media through financial subsidies. Pluralism in the broadcast media declined significantly in January when, as noted above, companies with ties to the ruling Communist Party and the allied Christian Democrats purchased Radio Antena-C and Euro-TV, two popular public broadcasters in Chisinau, and shifted their content toward entertainment and government-friendly news programming. The government does not control internet access, although internet services are limited to just over 16 percent of the population owing to an underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure.