Television remains the most important source of information about the country and abroad, being preferred by almost half of the respondents to the latest Public Opinion Barometer. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, public trust in Russian and Russian-language television has decreased, and the level of trust in Romanian and EU television has seen a slight increase.
Channels that retransmitted Russian content, such as NTV and RTR Moldova, had already begun to lose ground before their licenses were suspended in December 2022. At the same time, the ratings of channels that present the war in Ukraine in a more objective manner – Jurnal TV, Pro TV and TV8 – have increased.
Despite these trends, Russia’s falsehoods and narratives about the war continue to find fertile ground in the Republic of Moldova. More than half of the respondents to the WatchDog.MD Community survey in February-March 2023 believe that Russia is actually fighting NATO in Ukraine, and 40.4% believe that Russian-speakers in Ukraine have been subjected to discrimination and genocide. Regarding the President of Ukraine, about a third believed that the “Zelensky regime” is a fascist one.
These opinions are especially popular among Russian speakers. The suspension of the licenses of the three TV stations that broadcast content in Russian has not significantly changed the situation. Channels such as TV8, Jurnal TV and Pro TV fail in co-opting groups vulnerable to Russian propaganda. Instead, these groups remain marginalized and tend to radicalize on social media.
The analysis of the surveys suggests two problems: 1. Regulatory efforts in the audiovisual space must be accompanied by smart and public-friendly communication campaigns so as not to be perceived as a violation of the right to information; 2. Integral information alternatives are absolutely necessary for Russian speakers who, in the absence of their preferred channels, simply migrate to social networks.