Romania | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Romania

Romania

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

47

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

19

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

15

During 2003, Romanian media faced increased pressure and intimidation by authorities. Lawsuits against journalists and media outlets were quite frequent. More than 400 criminal cases were brought against the media during the year, the vast majority concerning defamation, which remains a criminal offense. Although prison terms for insult were abolished, they have been retained for libel or for "spreading false information." Most prosecutions resulted in excessive financial penalties or suspended prison sentences. The number of physical attacks on journalists who investigate corruption or other sensitive topics increased, especially in the provinces. In March, police found the body of Iosif Costinas, a journalist for the newspaper Timisoara, who disappeared in June 2002. Costinas had published articles on organized crime and was writing a book about illegal business activities in the area. Csondy Szoltan, a journalist for Hargita Nepe, was seriously injured by an unknown assailant, while Ino Ardelean, who works for the daily Evenimentul Zilei in Timisoara and frequently reported on illegal activities in the city, was beaten unconscious in December. He was the 14th journalist to be physically attacked in Romania in 2003. Media ties to government, business, or other powerful interest groups are still strong. The owners of private media are usually close to the ruling party, and public television is openly pro-government. Many privately owned media outlets suffer from a lack of editorial independence, usually serving the personal, political, and business interests of owners rather than advancing journalistic standards. Newspapers with the greatest editorial independence tend to be those that have some level of foreign ownership. There are 15 national daily newspapers, hundreds of local dailies, more than 70 private television stations, and more than 400 radio stations that are privately owned by Romanians. However, few Romanian media outlets are profitable. While the distribution system is state-owned and not always fully functional, advertising is sometimes used as a tool to pressure media outlets.