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Romania fears propaganda from Russian-owned Moldovan channel

Romania fears propaganda from Russian-owned Moldovan channel
A pre-election broadcast from October 2016 on RTR Moldova. Image: RTR Moldova / Facebook

17 August 2017

The Audiovisual Council of Romania is considering whether a Moldovan television channel that airs Russian programmes should be allowed to operate in Romania, amid fears it will broadcast one-sided information. Historically, Romania and Moldova have enjoyed good relations with regards to media collaboration, having established a joint mass media consulting board, with the aim of creating a joint media space in the two countries, back in March 2016.

RTR Moldova, the television station in question, is owned by Russia-RTR, a state-owned Russian-language channel. Russia-RTR, in turn, is owned by the state company VGTRK, which broadcasts programs by Russia 1, Russia Kultural and news channel Russia 24.

In light of its Russian ownership, when the Moldovan channel registred a branch in Iasi in eastern Romania in May and applied for a licence to broadcast on Romanian cable, many local experts and journalists feared that the station would provide a “powerful voice for Kremlin propaganda”.

Mihai Pavelescu, a journalist who was present at the council hearing, suggested that some members saw the request from RTR as legitimate, while others questioned the types of programmes that the station was planning to broadcast.

In response, the administrator of RTR in Romania, Veaceslav Cristea, told the council that the station would not broadcast political shows, but a mixture of “locally produced and Russian broadcasts, such as entertainment shows”.

To add further intrigue, a recent monitoring report carried out by the Independent Media Association in Moldova concluded that news shows and other programs on RTR, rebroadcast by RTR Moldova, “made use of a number of manipulation and propaganda procedures”.

The council was scheduled to meet today, having failed to come to a decision on 10 August, but the meeting has been postponed.

Source: Balkan Insight