Six television channels in Moldova have had their broadcast licences revoked following allegations of inaccuracies and misinformation in their coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine, authorities said.
Moldova’s Commission for Exceptional Situations announced its decision to suspend channels First in Moldova, RTR Moldova, Accent TV, NTV Moldova, TV6 and Orhei TV after a review found a “lack of correct information in the coverage of national events, but also of the war in Ukraine”.
The suspensions were also made with the aim of “prevent[ing] the risk of disinformation … or attempts to manipulate public opinion.”
Four of the six suspended channels — First in Moldova, RTR Moldova, NTV Moldova, and TV6 — regularly broadcast programmes from Russian TV channels that were banned for “disinformation and war propaganda” by the European Council on Friday, as part of new sanctions against Russia.
TV6 criticised the commission’s decision, deeming the suspension “totally unfounded” and “an unprecedented attack on freedom of expression, editorial freedom (and) freedom of journalists”.
The channel further claimed that the move was "not only totally unfounded but also downright false,” in a statement posted on Facebook.
Russia has also responded to the suspension, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova calling it “a cynical infringement of the rights of national minorities.”
“Hiding behind an imaginary concern for protecting its citizens from ‘insufficiently correct’ interpretations of events taking place in Moldova and the world, (Moldova) deliberately deprives millions of Russian-speaking residents of the last sources in the country of news content in their preferred language,” she said, calling on international organisations to investigate.
Some of the affected channels are owned by people associated with Ilan Shor, a fugitive Moldovan oligarch accused of fraud who leads the pro-Russian Shor Party. The movement has recently been involved in anti-Western protests in the country’s capital, Chisinau.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu commended the commission’s decision, claiming it represented “an important step to prevent attempts to destabilise” the country.
“We cannot accept that in this challenging period, the security of the state and the peaceful life of citizens are endangered by fugitives who want only one thing — to escape justice,” she said in a statement.