On Friday, March 4, the Russian television network NTV aired a program replete with half-truths and distorted information attacking Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) and maligning independent media.
The program called MDIF an agent of the U.S. State Department and accused its Russian clients of being mouthpieces of U.S. foreign policy. These untruths are an assault not just on MDIF, but also on independent media in Russia.
MDIF (formerly Media Development Loan Fund) is an investment fund that has provided financing to high-quality, nonpartisan media around the world for more than 20 years. Since 1998, MDIF has worked with media companies in Russia, providing them with loans, equity and training in media management. All MDIF loans are interest-bearing and nearly always require collateral. MDIF is always strict about loan repayment and does not hesitate to enforce a loan should a client be remiss.
The accusation that MDIF is an agent of the U.S. State Department is entirely false. Nor does MDIF interfere in the editorial policy of its clients; its internal governance rules prevent it from doing so. It requires only that its clients be nonpartisan and financially independent of government and big business conglomerates. MDIF’s dealings with its clients are of a purely business nature.
The NTV program undermines the integrity of what remains of quality media in Russia. The program contained false information and misrepresented facts. By falsely suggesting that MDIF interferes in its clients’ editorial content, NTV impugned their independence.
Independent media that inform the public without fear or favor are important institutions that deserve support. MDIF’s Russian clients have won awards and are widely recognized for their fierce independence. This is why they have been the target of Russian state propaganda. In the guise of an exposé, NTV has attempted to sully their reputation. MDIF stands by the integrity of its business in Russia and the quality and solid reputation of its Russian clients.