Reflection of the main geopolitical actors in Moldovan TV news in November 2022

Aug 17, 2023

The study looked at how 12 countries, 4 international organisations and 11 foreign leaders from Europe, North America and Asia were covered in the news of 8 of the most popular TV channels. Each of the monitored subjects was given one point for each mention in the news. As reference news bulletins, evening prime-time news was selected. We assessed not only the frequency of appearances but also their impact in terms of TV popularity. And to understand what image is formed within the news bulletins we also analysed the negative, positive or neutral context in which the monitored subjects were reflected.

We overlaid the results with the degree of trust in leaders and organizations, obtained by the Institute for Public Policy in the Public Opinion Barometer survey conducted in the same period (November 2022). This serves as a baseline for future surveys in which we will assess changes in public perceptions of countries and their leaders. Perceptions will be measured in surveys commissioned by the WatchDog.MD Community.

Of the eight TV channels monitored, the news of independent TV channels Jurnal TV , Pro TV  and TV8 have the greatest impact, accounting for 56.8% of the public space, while the TV group RTR Moldova, First in Moldova and NTV Moldova accounted for 19.2%.

The largest percentage of mentions in TV news was given to Russia, which in most cases was covered in a negative context. A natural situation given the military aggression. In second and third place were news about Ukraine and the European Union respectively. Both are mentioned mostly in positive or neutral contexts.

In this study we found that against the background of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the number and impact of negative news about Russia and Vladimir Putin is significantly higher:

– than positive or neutral mentions;

– compared to any other country and leader monitored.

However, the level of confidence in Vladimir Putin remains quite high at over 35%. On the other hand, even though the percentage of positive news about Joe Biden and the US is 10 times higher than negative news, the US president is the leader in terms of Moldovans’ distrust.

Most negative news about the West (US, EU, NATO) and Ukraine was generated by RTR Moldova, First in Moldova and NTV Moldova. These, for example, were the only stations that placed the European Union and Ursula von der Leyen in a negative context. Negative mentions of Ukraine and Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the news on these stations were more numerous than positive ones. Russia and Vladimir Putin were mentioned in a positive context on First in Moldova and RTR Moldova in 20% of cases and on NTV Moldova in only 5% of cases. However, the impact that these three TV channels had on the general public could not be decisive for the considerable change in the perception of citizens – compared to any other country and leader monitored.

In conclusion, we can say that, compared to 2018, the percentage of TV news in shaping geo-political perceptions and preferences is limited. Although the role of independent TV channels in reporting on international issues has strongly increased, the strong influence of Kremlin propaganda narratives remains on the prejudices built over the years, as well as their continued spread online. We will continue to monitor developments and the way TV channels reflect international news.

The study can be accessed here.


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