07 may

Access to public information is yet a problem for mass media, study

The access to information of public interest was one of the constant problems of the Moldovan journalists in the first quarter of this year. This is the conclusion of the media experts who monitored the media freedom degree in four thematic areas – politics, practice, broadcasting, and the new media, executive director of the Independent Journalism Center Nadine Gogu said in a news conference at IPN.

The quarterly report “Media Freedom Index” for January- March, which is published by the Independent Journalism Center in partnership with Internews-Ukraine, shows that sometimes the authorities and the public institutions refuse to provide information of public interest, arguing that it is commercial, fiscal or other kind of secret. The mass media stagnated compared with the previous period. The situation in Moldova is yet better than in other EaP member states.

The monitoring shows that the mass media in Moldova scored a sufficient number of points for ranking sixth out of seven positions, but stagnation continues to be witnessed as regards the legal framework. The political circumstances either didn’t improve or didn’t worsen the situation of the mass media.

“We refer to the limited access to the assembly hall of Parliament or the conflict between three TV channels and a number of cable operators, which shows that the relations between the political class and the mass media can suffer changes in the pre-electoral period. Experts consider that these cases represent regression in the area of media freedom,” stated Nadine Gogu.

She underlined that the inclination of the Broadcasting Coordination Council to yield up to the political influence and the delay in appointing new members of the Supervisory Board were perceived as regression. The relationship of the media with the judicial system continues to develop owing to the lower number of criminal cases over defamation started against journalists and to the smaller fines imposed by courts in such cases.

The monitoring of the Media Freedom Index also shows that ownership transparency remains one of the main problems of the media in Moldova. During the monitoring, the legal framework underwent no changes and the notion of founder continues to be used instead of owner. According to experts, this obstructs transparency of mass media ownership and financing.