The Memorandum on the Freedom of the Press: Signals of Censorship and Disinformation at GRT and Modest Progress at TRM

During the last year, GRT, the regional public TV channel from Gagauzia, avoided criticizing the governance from Comrat, demonstrated signs of censorship, and was sanctioned for disinformation, according to the Memorandum on the Freedom of the Press in the Republic of Moldova, the document published on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) and signed by the other eight non-governmental media organizations. At the same time, according to the findings from May 3, 2023, to May 3, 2024, the Teleradio-Moldova national public broadcaster also reached modest progress.

According to the memorandum, in the ATU of Gagauzia, the political control over the GRT regional public media service provider forces the editorial agenda into avoiding criticism and related issues which could present the autonomy’s authorities negatively. A monitoring by the Independent Press Association previously revealed that GRT broadcast only two topics about corruption in six months, and none of them covered any cases of corruption in Gagauzia.

Signals of censorship at the GRT regional public provider from Comrat which became obvious in February 2024 served as reasons for profound concern for the media NGOs which vehemently condemned any attempts at illegal interference with the media institutions’ editorial activity and demanded investigating these signals according to the provisions of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Moldova. The authors affirm that the situation deteriorated to such an extent that, in April 2024, after conducting a checkup, the Broadcasting Council revealed a number of fakes and toxic narratives and sanctioned the regional public provider for disinformation for the first time.

In January 2024, the portal journalists and their colleagues from became the target of pressure from the authorities in the region, i.e. from Mihail Vlah, councilor of the head of the autonomy Evghenia Gutul, in charge of mass relations, who threatened the journalists.

The memorandum also includes the conclusions regarding the national public broadcaster. The authors affirm that TRM’s efforts aimed at comprehending the challenges and enabling reforms within the institution “have resulted in certain beneficial changes.” “However, from May 3, 2023, to May 3, 2024, the TRM Ombudsman’s Service which was supposed to act as an essential element of professional self-regulation failed to demonstrate that it was an independent and competent authority, and the activity of the TRM Supervisory and Development Council was not transparent enough. At the same time, as to broadcasting subjects about corruption, Moldova 1, the national public TV channel, demonstrated modest success,” the memorandum states.

As to the two channels, the IJC and the signatory organizations recommend introducing reforms at TRM and increasing transparency in the activity of the channel’s Supervisory and Development Council. The national public TV channel is also recommended to develop a systemic and comprehensive approach to the topics related to corruption, human rights violations, and disinformation. As to GRT, the signatories of the memorandum insist on avoiding any political impact and countering the revealed disinformation practices.

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