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Alarm as Romania moves to scrap TV and Radio Licence fee: the end of public service broadcasting?

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In a fresh alert published on the Council of Europe’s online Platform for the protection of journalism and safety of journalists, the EFJ/IFJ, AEJ and index on Censorship have called on Romanian members of parliament to reject a bill to abolish the licence fee system that underpins the country’s public service broadcasting system. Instead, the proposed legislation would give the state direct control over the funding of Romanian national TV and radio, in direct contravention of agreed European standards which call for states to enable PSB broadcasting systems entrusted with maintaining standards of impartiality and fairness in the public interest. The text of the ‘Platform alert’ is as follows:

 

 

On 17 October 2016, the Romanian Senate approved a draft law to eliminate the monthly TV and radio licence fee and to introduce direct funding of public service media from the state budget. The proposal, initiated by the Social-Democrats leader Liviu Dragnea, has come just a few weeks ahead the general elections. The measure, highly significant for the future of public broadcasting in Romania, was buried in a draft law proposing the elimination of 102 non-fiscal taxes. The draft bill is now to be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies. The Romanian Federation of Culture and Mass-Media FAIR-MediaSind, the Center for Independent Journalism, ActiveWatch and the Convention of Media Organizations are calling the Members of the Parliament to reject the draft bill, which would increase the political dependency of the public broadcaster. The journalists’ organisations in Romania insist that the licence fees are the best way to guarantee the editorial independence of public service media, reducing the risk of political interference. The licence fee represents 67.56% of the incomes for the public television, and 49% for the public radio. The current rate of the TV fee is 0.8 EUR per month, the lowest in Europe, and the radio fee is 0.6 EUR per month. Following a recent study from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the licence fee system is shown to be the most stable, transparent and adaptable way to fund Public Service Media.

 

Read here the Platform alert ‘Romania to eliminate public broadcast fee’ and background information

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