The development of independent media is a key priority for Moldova’s newly-elected democratic government. With many media outlets only available in Chisinau, audiences outside the capital have limited access to alternative news sources.

To help combat this problem, the Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD) supported the Bulgarian Broadcast Training Center (BTC) ProMedia Foundation with a grant to share skills and knowledge with AICI, a network of local Moldovan TV stations. AICI covers most of Moldova but is in need of experience in developing joint productions and content on issues of importance to its citizens. BTC received a first grant from BTD two-and-a-half years ago in order to support the production of the anti-corruption investigative reporting series Na Chisto, which started as a program shared by local TV stations and later became one of the highest-rated investigative programs of national station, Nova TV.

Petko Georgiev, BTC Pro Media Foundation director, says that AICI is a young, dynamic organization trying to break free of the Soviet model of media that still exists in many post-Soviet countries. “Given the difficult transition from Soviet-era to independent media, this was the right moment for BTC to assist a network focused on responding to local needs,” Georgiev said. “Programming being run from the capital typically concerned only events in the capital, while audiences in rural Moldova were neglected.”                 

BTC sent staff to Moldova to train AICI producers and team members, and the cooperation between the two organizations allowed AICI to launch, in May 2011, a one-hour daily news and entertainment broadcast across the entire network of independent Moldovan TV stations. In addition, AICI runs weekly broadcasts of the I Have the Right program, focusing on the importance of active participation in local decision-making processes, and on the protection of citizens’ rights. The pilot was produced in cooperation with BTC and is now broadcast to 12 cities and 416 villages across Moldova, reaching 800,000 people. Veaceslav Mitu, news director of the AICI network, said, “I want my people to be well informed, and to be able to take correct decisions and to protect their rights.” He added that the partnership with BTC Pro Media enabled them to “strengthen AICI network capacities in developing our programs.”

Pavlina Filipova, a BTD program officer, said, “With this transfer of experience between one very well-known BTD grantee to a Moldovan partner organization, we have an excellent example of what can be achieved with regional cooperation. It proves the importance of cooperation among Balkan countries for their democratic development, which is one of the main priorities of the BTD regional program.”

The BTC ProMedia Foundation was founded in 1998. Today, it specializes in independent TV production, broadcast training and public relations consulting, and publicity services, with the aim of fostering free, independent media in Bulgaria.