Disinformation and cyber-attacks among threats stipulated in draft of new National Security Strategy
President Maia Sandu presented a new draft of the National Security Strategy on October 11 at the meeting of the Supreme Security Council. It outlines the threats to Moldova’s security and proposes courses of action to strengthen the country’s national security and the security of every citizen, according to a press release issued by the Office of the President. Regarding the fight against disinformation, the document outlines the Russian Federation’s action to destabilize the country via cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns, as well as efforts to disrupt public order. It also describes cyber-attacks on public or private institutions by structures specialized in cybercrimes.
Ana Revenco is appointed Director of the Center for Strategic Communication and Countering Disinformation.
Ana Revenco, former Minister of Internal Affairs, has been appointed by Parliament as Director of the Center for Strategic Communication and Countering Disinformation. A vote of 60 MPs took the decision. In the hearing session, responding to questions from MPs, she mentioned that the most powerful weapon to fight disinformation is the informed citizen who has the knowledge, skills, and the necessary tools to distinguish between falsehood and truth and that this will be the primary mission of the Center. The established institution will have 24 personnel in total.
More than 20 websites have been blocked within the Republic of Moldova, writes the Independent Journalism Centre’s Mediacritica.md portal, referring to a press release from the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) The order was signed on 24 October by SIS Director Alexandru Musteata and targets “online content sources used in the disinformation war against the Republic of Moldova,” which promote the alteration of information disseminated in the public space coming from public authorities of recognized aggressor states. The blocked portals are Ltv.ru, Ntv.ru, Rt.com, Russian.rt.com, Ttvzvezda.ru, Radiozvezda.ru, Tvc.ru, Ren.tv, Mirtv.ru, Mir24.tv, Vgtrk. ru, Vgtrk.com, Tsargrad.tv, Rtr-planeta.com, 5-tv.ru, Vesti.ru, Spastv.ru, Radiovesti.ru, Radiomayak.ru, Smotrim.ru, M24.ru, 360tv.ru.
On 30 October, a week after 21 websites were blocked during the state of emergency period, the Director of the SIS Alexandru Musteata, announced that another 31 websites had been blocked on the same grounds as “most of them are directly managed by the Russian Federation,” the SIS chief said.
They are Kp.md, Aif.md, Orizont.tv, Itv.md, Prime.md, Publika.md, Canal2.md, Canal3.md, Primul.md, Rtr.md, A-tv.md, Cenzura.md, Tv6.md, Orheitv.md, Vedomosti. md, Enews.md, Regtrends.com, Kp.ru, Tass.ru, Lenta.ru, Pravda.ru, Aif.ru, Rg.ru, Interfax.ru, Mk.ru, Iz.ru, Riafan.ru, Regnum.ru, Pnp.ru, Radiosputnik.ru, Rline.tv.
The Commission for Exceptional Situations (CES) has decided to suspend the licenses of 6 TV stations “promoting foreign interests,” Prime Minister Dorin Recean announced on 30 October. They are Orizont TV, ITV, Prime TV, Publika TV, Canal 2 and Canal 3. The decision was taken on the recommendation of the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS).
According to SIS director Alexandru Musteata, the activity of six TV channels is carried out “with multiple violations of the law, as found by the Broadcasting Council, but also based on information held by the SIS that represents a threat to information security.”
At the end of last year, the Commission for Exceptional Situations decided to suspend the broadcasting licenses of Primul in Moldova, Accent TV, TV6, Orhei TV, NTV Moldova, and RTR Moldova during the state of emergency.
The Independent Journalism Center (IJC), the Electronic Press Association (APEL), RISE Moldova, the “Access-Info” Center, the Legal Resources Center of Moldova (CRJM), and Amnesty International Moldova expressed their concern about the perpetuation of the practice of suspending the licenses of TV stations in the absence of extensive explanations of the factual and legal circumstances justifying the restrictive measures. The signatory NGOs call on the authorities to communicate without delay the arguments and evidence on which the decision of the Commission for Exceptional Situations (CES) of the Republic of Moldova was based.
In a joint statement, the media NGOs and civil society representatives claim that the CES suspension decision taken on October 30 contains no arguments or references to “serious, compelling, justified and duly substantiated reasons.” The signatory organizations and People’s Advocate in two separate statements recall that the state has an obligation to ensure effective audiovisual pluralism.
Eleven media NGOs, including the Independent Journalism Center, have condemned the behavior of the President of the Party for the Development and Consolidation of Moldova, Ion Chicu, manifested towards the journalist of Ziarul de Garda (ZdG) Mariuta Nistor by verbally assaulting and intimidating the later.
On 24 October, the politician leveled insulting and offensive accusations and expressions at the journalist, which offended the honor and dignity of the person and contravened generally accepted rules of conduct in a democratic society.
The signatory organizations called on the politician Ion Chicu to publicly apologize to the journalist ZdG and to adopt decent language and behavior towards journalists and media institutions.
Problems and solutions for strengthening editorial independence and public trust in the press will be among the topics discussed by the journalistic community at the 2023 Media Forum, which will take place on December 4-5 at the Radisson Blu Leogrand Hotel in Chisinau. At the same time, the Forum will also hold debates and workshops on various topics of interest with representatives from the field of interest, such as the costs of editorial independence, innovative approaches in the media, artificial intelligence tools used in journalism, etc.
At the 2023 Media Forum, Freedom House will launch the third edition its annual report “Freedom of Information Index: Measuring Transparency of Public Institutions in Moldova”. This comprehensive study offers an insightful review of the state of access to information in Moldova. The report’s findings will shed light on how the performance of public institutions in ensuring the right to information has evolved over the past year. This study was developed using an original methodological approach developed for the purpose of this analysis, with due consideration of international standards and best practices.
The event is organized annually by the Press Council in partnership with the Independent Press Association, the Independent Journalism Center, and the Electronic Press Association. The current edition is supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (Germany), the Soros Foundation Moldova and DW Akademie.
A year and a half after the Russian army invaded Ukraine, the Ukrainian refugee crisis has passed the acute stage. Still, the question is: How is the integration of these people into society taking place? ELITA TV in Rezina will try to answer this question by making a series of programs about displaced persons from Ukraine in Moldova. Who are these people, how do they integrate into the community, what problems and challenges do they face? In the first edition, the TV channel tackles the issue of socialization of Moldovan and Ukrainian children.
Court rejects Jurnal TV’s appeal against the sanction imposed by the former BC at the request of three ex-policemen
The Chisinau Court recently rejected Jurnal TV’s appeal against the decision of the Broadcasting Council (BC) to sanction the TV station for failing to provide correct information when it broadcast news about former policemen Alexei Vizdan, Ion Tarna, and Igor Axenti. The former BC publicly warned the media service provider about four news programs broadcast between June and July 2021. The monitoring carried out by the BC found deviations from the provisions of the law, and the decision to sanction Jurnal TV with a public warning was taken by a vote of five out of the six members present.
On October 30, 2023, Jurnal TV’s appeal against the sanction imposed by the BC was rejected by the Chisinau Court, Riscani headquarters.
The Chisinau Court recently rejected NTV Moldova’s appeal against the decision of the BC to fine the TV station 25,000 lei (EUR 1,200) for failing to provide correct information to the public. The sanction was imposed in connection with a news item from June 2022, which dealt with former country president Igor Dodon’s wife being summoned for questioning.
The decision challenged by NTV Moldova was issued at the July 8, 2022 BC meeting, which examined the complaint received from the Watchdog Community. The BC monitoring report noted deviations from the obligation to ensure correct information to the public. NTV Moldova’s appeal against the sanction imposed by the BC was rejected by the Chisinau Court of Appeal, Riscani headquarters, on October 26, 2023.
The court rejected NTV Moldova’s complaint against sanctions imposed in connection with the broadcasting of a program from the Russian Federation.
Magistrates of the Chisinau District Court recently rejected NTV Moldova’s appeal against the decision of the BC to sanction the TV station for failing to ensure correct information to the public when broadcasting a program from the Russian Federation. The fine of MDL 10,000 (EUR 500) was imposed in connection with an edition of the program “Новые русские сенсации” in January 2022, which “aimed to amplify the feeling of hatred, chaos and political instability in Ukraine.” NTV Moldova’s appeal against the sanction imposed by the BC was rejected by the Chisinau Court of Appeals, Riscani headquarters, on October 24, 2023.
Jurnal TV’s appeal against the sanction imposed by the BC for violation of electoral legislation was rejected by the courts.
The Chisinau Court recently rejected Jurnal TV’s appeal against the decision of the BC to fine the TV station for deviations from electoral legislation. The sanction was imposed in relation to an edition of the program Ora de Ras “Shaving Hour” in May 2023, which targeted the mayor general of Chisinau municipality, Ion Ceban. It was rebroadcast on 8 October during the election campaign.
After monitoring, the AC fined Jurnal TV MDL 10.000 (EUR 500 ) for violating legal provisions prohibiting media outlets from broadcasting programs about electoral contestants if this program was not included in the editorial policy statement.
The Chisinau Court of Appeal rejected Jurnal TV’s appeal against the sanction imposed by the BC on October 19, and the Supreme Court of Justice rejected the media’s appeal on October 24, 2023.
The Broadcasting Council fined six media service providers a total of MDL 31,000 (EUR 1,550) for violations of the Electoral Code. The AC announces that the violations were found following monitoring of the coverage of the election campaign on TV and radio from October 9 – 15, 2023.
According to the BC, of the 42 TV and radio stations monitored, five did not comply with the Electoral Code’s provisions and the Regulation on the coverage of elections by media institutions, according to which the presentation of the results of opinion polls on voters’ political preferences must be accompanied by all information related to the poll.
Thus, Moldova 1, TV8, ART TV, Radio Chisinau, and Radio Moldova were each fined with MDL 5,000 (EUR 250), and ProTV Chisinau was fined for two violations, MDL 6,000 (EUR 300).
The Broadcasting Council (BC) has decided not to extend the broadcasting licenses of television stations Primul in Moldova and Familia following several violations, including their program concepts. The decision was taken by a majority vote of the board members at a meeting on October 13, according to a press release from the institution.
According to the board members, there are suspicions of anti-competitive practices and the risk of public opinion dominance, with seven TV media services allegedly owned and/or affiliated to former Democratic Party chairman Vlad Plahotniuc, according to several press investigations. In addition, the funding sources for this media service need to be sufficiently substantiated. With reference to Familia TV channel, the board members also justified their decision by the lack of a local program, for which Familia TV has often been sanctioned. Still, during nine years of activity, the situation needs to be rectified.
Between October 1-11, the Independent Journalism Center monitored the main news bulletins of 10 TV channels: Moldova 1, TVR Moldova, Jurnal TV, Pro TV Chisinau, TV8, Cinema 1, ITV, Orizont TV, Vocea Basarabiei TV and Exclusiv TV.
According to the report, in the first ten days of the electoral campaign for the general local elections on November 5, five of the ten TV channels monitored the electoral events correctly and fairly. Other media broadcasters either presented in a slightly negative light, or favored the Chance and Renaissance Party Coalition, or slightly favored Ion Ceban, and one channel did not cover election issues, said Nadine Gogu, Executive Director of the Independent Journalism Center, at the press conference where the report’s findings were presented.
Some of the ten stations gave relatively equal access to candidates in the election who were featured in separate news stories or mentioned in direct or indirect election material. In contrast, others had preferential attitudes towards some candidates. Most of the time, election coverage was based on a single source of information, without ensuring pluralism of opinion and dealing with the issue in depth. The findings of the second media monitoring report on the election campaign for the November 5, 2023 general local elections were published on the Independent Journalism Center website on Wednesday, October 25.
The experts also came up with several recommendations urging broadcasters to use the monitoring reports as self-regulatory tools and to eliminate shortcomings so that their work complies with legal rules and those of the Code of Ethics for Journalists.
For seven years, the optional subject of Media Literacy has been part of the school curriculum, taught in both Romanian and Russian-speaking schools. So far, more than 16,000 pupils from the three levels of education – primary, secondary, and high school – have been enrolled in this course, where they learn to absorb the information on the topic critically. The authors of the media education textbooks on Media Literacy stated in the Podcast that they are likely to solve the dilemma of whether the course will remain an optional course or shall become compulsory into the curriculum, or whether the course should be integrated into the course subjects studied in school.
The cuMINTE Podcast is produced by the Center for Independent Journalism with the support from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).
Survey on credibility of media sources in Moldova: respondents do not trust the press regardless of political preferences
Regardless of political preferences, the Moldovan public does not trust the media. This is especially true for traditional sources, seen as misleading, deceptive, and non-independent, significantly reducing their popularity. Instead, the majority of respondents prefer online sources. They allow citizens to independently choose trustworthy content instead of passively consuming news broadcast on TV. The findings are contained in the recently released study by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting on media literacy and counterpropaganda in Moldova.
The same study also reveals that in the Republic of Moldova, there are significant differences in how citizens perceive and approach the origin and impact of propaganda, depending on their political affiliation and beliefs.
Participants in the research unanimously acknowledged the existence of propaganda in Moldova but had different perceptions of its origin and impact. For example, respondents with a pro-Russian profile were reluctant to acknowledge the existence of Russian propaganda but admitted the existence of Western propaganda. Pro-Western respondents acknowledged the existence of Russian and Western propaganda. Still, they considered Western propaganda to be less harmful and even beneficial to Moldova, as it promoted European integration and the country’s development. The third category of respondents, neutrals, held similar views to the pro-Western respondents.
In order to improve media literacy in Moldova, both pro-Western and neutral respondents suggested increasing critical thinking and including lessons on identifying false information in the school curriculum.
IJC and Internews Updates
The Independent Journalism Center launched, on October 26, the second edition of the Media Education Forum – Moldova Media Literacy Forum. Around 70 Media Literacy teachers from all over the country are participating in the event, aware of the important role media education plays in developing a critical-thinking generation.
The IJC aims to bring together decision-makers, media literacy teachers, and local and foreign experts in Chisinau to discuss the latest developments in the field, examine the experience of neighboring countries, and analyze the prospects for media literacy in Moldova. In their speeches, Nadine Gogu, Executive Director of the IJC; Dan Perciun, Minister of Education and Research; John P. Riordan, Deputy Director of the USAID Mission in Moldova; Margret Maria Uebber, German Ambassador to Moldova; Oxana Iutes, Internews Director in Moldova, Cristina Leva, Project Officer, DW Akademie in Moldova and other guests at the Forum stressed the importance of media education in combating misinformation and fake news, urging the Forum participants to become ambassadors of media literacy.
Workshops at the Media Education Forum: opportunities, innovative practices, and trends in integrating media education into school subjects
Innovative practices of integrating media education into formal education, the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications for media education, valuable approaches and tools in teaching media education, information literacy, and media – a component of pedagogical professionalism are some of the topics discussed during the four masterclass sessions by the participants of the second edition of the Media Education Forum. The workshops were attended by experts Bahia Albrecht from DW Akademie Germany, Arminas Muse from Lithuania, Svetlana Babenco from Ukraine, Monica Halaszidin from Romania, and Natalia Griu from the Republic of Moldova. The masterclass sessions highlighted good practices in teaching media literacy internationally and exchanging valuable experiences in the context of the pilot project on integrating media literacy content into core school subjects.
Participants at the second Moldova Media Literacy Forum adopted a resolution on strengthening efforts to promote Media Literacy
The teachers who on October 26, 2023 participated in the second edition of the Media Education Forum – Moldova Media Literacy Forum, adopted a resolution reconfirming the importance of strengthening efforts to promote Media Literacy to develop critical thinking among students, young people, and parents. Participants stressed that in the 21st century, Media Literacy is a valuable discipline that offers young people the opportunity to learn how to develop their analytical and critical thinking skills and feel safe online.
The forum participants called on the Ministry of Education and Research to continue to support opportunities to integrate media literacy into the curriculum of other school subjects, including through an inter- and transdisciplinary approach to media. Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Culture, Broadcasting Council, and other relevant public authorities are also urged to continue the dialogue with civil society, experts, teachers, and other stakeholders to develop public policies to support information and media literacy programs and activities to develop and strengthen citizens’ critical thinking skills and rational use of media.
Full text of the resolution.
The Media Literacy Forum is part of the project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M), funded by USAID, the British Embassy in Chisinau, and implemented by Internews in Moldova, which aims to promote the development of independent and professional media and to create a media sector more resilient to political and economic pressures. Similarly, the event is being held with the support of the project “Strengthening Media Literacy Skills in the Republic of Moldova: Piloting the Integrated Approach in Formal Education,” implemented in partnership with Deutsche Welle Akademie and with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Internews study: Moldova has satisfactory local media coverage, with 68 active regional institutions
There are 113 local and regional media outlets in the Republic of Moldova, of which only 68 are active, most in urban areas, while two radio stations are in rural areas. The Donduseni district is the region with the poorest media coverage in the country, according to data from Internews Moldova’s national mapping study of local media in Moldova.
The aim of mapping the local media landscape in Moldova, according to the authors, was to analyze the availability of media in the regions of the country, except for the capital and the Transnistrian region, to determine the existence of areas with limited access to information.
The Internews study finds that, quantitatively, Moldova and its regions have satisfactory media coverage and that more detailed and comprehensive evaluation studies are needed to cover the “grey spaces” identified.
Audience measurement and lack of human resources – the biggest challenges for local media institutions in Moldova
The same Internews study finds that audience measurement, financial challenges, and lack of human resources remain the biggest problems that local media face, especially in the audiovisual sector.
According to the researchers, if for online-only media outlets, the focus has been on identifying the number of unique monthly visitors, and for print media outlets – on weekly and/or monthly newspaper circulation, then local TV and radio stations have almost no accurate audience data reflecting their regional and/or national popularity and audience profile.
Currently, there are no market studies or audience measurement companies for local TV and radio stations. TV MR MLD, the official representative of the international company AGB Nielsen in Moldova, is the only company that carries out audience measurement in the broadcasting sector at the national level.