Policy Brief: Seize the Press, Seize the Day: The Influence of Politically Affiliated Media in Moldova’s 2016 Elections

Mihai Mogildea’s, Associate Expert (IPRE), brief explains how politically affiliated media outlets helped their owners distort campaign coverage and influence the 2016 presidential elections in Moldova.

 

Introduction

In Moldova, media ownership by oligarchs and political figures has reached the highest level in the last decade. According to a report by the Association of Independent Press (API)1, four of the five TV channels with national coverage are controlled by the leader of the ruling Democratic Party (PDM), Vladimir Plahotniuc. Other media companies are managed by opposition politicians, mayors, former members of the parliament, and influential businessmen, who tend to adopt a restrictive policy on media content and promote specific political parties. The concentration of media resources in the hands of a few public officials has significant influence on the electorate, whose voting preferences can be manipulated through disinformation and fake news. This was visible during the second round of the 2016 presidential elections in Moldova, with powerful media owners undermining the campaign of the center-right, pro-European candidate, Maia Sandu, and helping Igor Dodon, a left-wing candidate and a strong supporter of Russia.

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Mihai Mogildea is a research assistant for Collegium Civitas (Warsaw) in a project concerning the internal barriers for the European transformation of Moldova. He is also a research fellow for Experts for Security and Global Affairs Association and an associate for the Institute for European Policy and Reforms. Mihai holds a master degree in European Political and Administrative Studies from College of Europe (Bruges).

 

This policy brief has been published within the ‘Media Forward’ policy brief series of the multi-year Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova (MEDIA-M) project, coordinated by Freedom House and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The ‘Media Forward’ policy brief series aims to enable local analysts to research and write on critical issues affecting Moldova’s media sector.


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