Freedom of the Press 2009 - Romania
|Publication Date||1 May 2009|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2009 - Romania, 1 May 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b2741fc1e.html [accessed 17 September 2014]|
Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 13 (of 30)
Political Environment: 16 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 15 (of 30)
Total Score: 44 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.
The constitution protects freedom of the press, and the government generally respects these rights.
While there were no criminal libel cases during the year, some politicians used lawsuits to silence media criticism. The mayor of Constanta won a case in June against a correspondent for public television broadcaster TVR and the newspaper Evenimentul Zilei who had accused him of criminal associations; the reporter was ordered to pay compensation and issue an apology. In September, President Traian Basescu filed a suit over an editorial in the daily Cotidianul that accused him of organizing a preelection pact with an ultranationalist party, though he sought only 100 lei (US$40) in compensation.
The Senate in late June unanimously passed a bill instructing broadcasters to devote at least 50 percent of their news programming to positive news. The measure drew widespread criticism, and the Constitutional Court struck it down in early July.
Romanian journalists continued to suffer verbal abuse and assaults in the course of their work in 2008, and at least four reported receiving death threats. Several journalists resigned or were fired during the year due to complaints about politicized censorship by managers at state-owned outlets, threats of violence, or pressure from local authorities. Most such incidents stemmed from reporting on corruption, organized crime, and politics. Political influence at TVR had reportedly grown worse since the parliament appointed former Social Democratic Party official Alexandru Sassu to lead the station in September 2007.
Both the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty ended their venerable Romanian-language services in August. Romanians have access to a growing diversity of media outlets, but some observers expressed concern that the closures would reduce the number of independent, objective news sources in a media market that remained heavily influenced by various political and economic interests.
Access to the internet is widely available, with no reports of government interference. More than 33 percent of the population used the internet in 2008, and Romania is considered a regional leader in high-speed broadband connections. Costs have also decreased due to competition.