Freedom of the Press
Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Press freedom declined slightly in 2002 as a result of new legislation on access to information and continued political influence over state media. Article 30 of the constitution bans censorship and guarantees freedom of the press. At times, the government has acted to restrict these rights in practice. The penal code threatens journalists with imprisonment or fines for libel and insult. There are currently more than 300 such cases pending against journalists. In 2002, media and human rights organizations expressed concern over the passage of the Law on Classified Information. The law exempts several government agencies from public oversight and undermines sections of the 2001 Freedom of Information Act. The 2002 Audiovisual Law, intended to reform the broadcast sector, maintains the government's strict control over the distribution of television and radio licenses. Many media outlets are financially dependent on the government and reluctant to voice criticism. In one example, the largest private television station, Pro TV, owes the state nearly $50 million in unpaid taxes and relies heavily upon the good graces of the government for survival. No fewer than 1,500 private newspapers and magazines compete for Romanian readers. All but two television and radio stations are privately owned.