State subsidizing private media in Republic of Moldova : A potential way to correct media market failure and promote Quality of Government?

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Statsvetenskap

Abstract: 2017 has been described as a decisive year for the Republic of Moldova. Following years of economic and political turmoil, it is more urgent than ever before that crucial reforms are not only adopted, but fully implemented – primarily within justice, media and banking sectors. Using a theory of impartial institutions and two central theories of state intervention into media markets, this counterfactual deductive thesis sets out to investigate arguments for and against a system of state subsidies to private media as a tool to increase Quality of Government in Moldova. Through analyses of qualitative interviews with six country experts within relevant fields as well as secondary data, the conclusion of this single case study is primarily confirming previous research indicating on the one hand, that a more social responsible role of the state within Eastern European media markets is a realistic future path, on the other hand that it can hardly be expected soon. Further, the possibility of media to improve Quality of Government is perceived as low – even with sufficient financial resources – due to lack of other prerequisites such as accessibility, accountability and responsiveness; as well as low scores on crucial indicators such as corruption, law and order and quality of bureaucracy. Just like democratic institutions can be destabilizing under wrong circumstances, state subsidies given to wrong beneficiaries within a media market, could undermine democratic legitimacy and accountability. Both findings of previous research – related to state governance on the one hand and media governance on the other – are perceived as particularly relevant in this study of Moldova. However, there have been promising signs lately on economic structural reforms improving the conditions for civil society and media in Moldova, indicating for reevaluating the potential of state support in the future. Further, I recommend greater emphasis put on the distinction between political and non-political owners when examining the effects of media ownership concentration and its effects on governments and societies at large.

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