The Independent Journalism Center (IJC) released on Wednesday, November 8, its third monitoring report on the media during the electoral campaign for the general local elections on November 5, 2023. The research covered the period from October 24 to November 4, with IJC continuing to monitor the main news bulletins of ten television stations: Moldova 1, TVR Moldova, Jurnal TV, Pro TV Chișinău, TV8, Cinema 1, ITV Moldova, Orizont TV, Vocea Basarabiei TV, and Exclusiv TV. This third monitoring report is also the last one that IJC launches during the electoral campaign for the general local elections.
Television stations were selected based on criteria such as audience and impact, public or private ownership, and the broadcasting language – Romanian or Russian. IJC analyzed the entire content of the main daily news bulletins from these ten TV stations, examining materials with direct and indirect electoral content. The materials underwent a content and context evaluation to determine whether they were favorable or unfavorable to any electoral competitor.
“Most stations provided relatively equal access to election candidates, who were mostly portrayed accurately and impartially in election news. Several stations extensively covered the activities of central public administration representatives, usually in a positive context. As a result, PAS candidates benefited from the positive image transfer from news about central authorities broadcasted by most stations, while being unfavorably portrayed by two stations through a negative image transfer. MAN candidate, Ion Ceban, was slightly favored by one TV station and unfavorably portrayed by three other stations. The Șansă Party was predominantly targeted in negatively connotated news on most monitored stations, with the exception of two stations that favored this formation,” explained Nadine Gogu, the executive director of the Independent Journalism Center, during the press conference where the conclusions of the third monitoring report were presented.
Thus, during the period from October 24 to November 4, 2023, the following general trends were recorded:
- Public television channel Moldova 1 provided news access to the majority of electoral competitors, presenting them in a neutral and impartial manner, with the exception of Ion Ceban (MAN), who benefited from more appearances and favorable context. Central public authorities were predominantly portrayed positively in indirect electoral news, thus favoring the representatives of the governing party in the electoral race.
- TVR Moldova reflected the activities of a relatively large number of electoral competitors. The news was balanced, with no noticeable attitudes favoring or disfavoring specific electoral competitors. PAS representatives were slightly favored through the image transfer from central public administration, whose activities were predominantly portrayed positively in the news.
- Jurnal TV objectively and impartially reflected the electoral campaign, depicting the campaign activities of the majority of electoral competitors without direct favoritism or disfavor. Candidates from the governing party were favored by the positive context of news reflecting the activities of central public administration. MAN candidate, Ion Ceban, was equally portrayed in neutral and negative news.
- TV8 provided news access to the majority of electoral competitors, portraying them in a neutral and impartial manner without evident favoritism or disfavor.
- Pro TV Chișinău neutrally and impartially reflected the electoral campaign, providing equal access to the majority of electoral competitors without direct favoritism or disfavor. Ion Ceban, MAN candidate, was slightly disfavored by a piece about the issues of the capital broadcasted on the “day of silence.” PAS competitors were slightly favored, benefiting from a positive image transfer in news about the activities of central public administration.
- Cinema 1 ensured broadcasting space for the majority of electoral competitors without direct favoritism or disfavor. Central public administration and, implicitly, the governing party were favored by several positively connotated materials, which were favorable to PAS competitors in this election.
- ITV Moldova favored candidates from the Șansă and Renaștere political parties, who benefited from the highest number of appearances compared to other candidates. The station disfavored Ion Ceban, MAN competitor, with partisan news placing him in a negative context. Central public authorities appeared predominantly negatively, with the respective news disfavoring PAS representatives in the elections.
- Orizont TV favored the Șansă Political Party through a significant number of appearances, as well as through the association with the leader of the former Șor Political Party, presented as a national savior. MAN candidate Ion Ceban was disfavored by negative and partisan materials.
- Vocea Basarabiei TV provided news access to a limited number of electoral competitors, reflecting the campaign more from the perspective of the electoral process. The station slightly favored central public authorities in several positively connotated news, which could be favorable to the candidates of the governing party.
- Exclusiv TV offered broadcasting space for more than half of the electoral competitors, portraying them neutrally. The activities of central public administration were extensively reflected, favoring PAS representatives involved in the elections through a positive image transfer.
IJC recommends that broadcasters use monitoring reports as self-regulation tools and address deficiencies so that their activities align with legal norms and the Journalist’s Code of Ethics. Additionally, IJC recommends that the Audiovisual Council use monitoring reports to self-initiate assessments of whether the monitored TV stations have respected citizens’ right to complete, objective, and truthful information and the electoral contestants’ right to equal access to the media.
This monitoring report is part of the USAID and UK-funded project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M) and implemented by Internews in Moldova, which aims to promote the development of an independent, professional media, and to create a media sector that is more resilient to political and financial pressures. The opinions expressed in the report belong to the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the funders.