Freedom of the Press
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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 is protected by the constitution and generally respected by the government in practice.
- Defamation remains a criminal offense, and politicians have used civil lawsuits to combat media criticism, but no new cases were reported in 2009.
- Public television broadcaster TVR is headed by a former official of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), and staff members have complained of politicization. In June 2009, a news director at TVR 1 reportedly threatened two employees with salary cuts and dismissal after they objected to the broadcast of an interview with a PSD leader just before European Parliament elections. Nevertheless, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) praised TVR 1 for its balanced and impartial if limited coverage of the presidential election in November and December.
- While some private broadcast and print outlets offered balanced election coverage, those controlled by two powerful businessmen—Sorin Ovidiu Vantu and Dan Voiculescu, a Conservative Party senator—aired largely negative reports about the incumbent, President Traian Basescu. Adevarul, a leading newspaper owned by billionaire Dinu Patriciu, did not cover the campaign at all. All three men faced allegations of financial crimes, and Basescu claimed that they had aligned against him after he refused to grant concessions in their cases.
- Unlike in previous years, no major cases of violence or threats of violence aimed at journalists were reported in 2009.
- Although there is a variety of small outlets, the media sector is dominated by a handful of owners with both political and business interests, and to a lesser extent by foreign media companies. In addition to TVR, the top television outlets are Antena 1, controlled by Voiculescu, and Pro TV, owned by the Bermuda-based Central European Media Enterprises. Similarly, the country’s media magnates own a number of important newspapers, while others are held by Germany’s WAZ Media Group and Switzerland’s Ringier AG.
- In some cases, political leaders use their economic clout to discourage media scrutiny. A press distribution company owned by Constanta municipal officials stopped distributing the newspaper Ziua de Constanta in April 2009 after it published critical articles about local authorities.
- Access to the internet is widely available, with no reports of government interference. Close to 35 percent of the population used the internet in 2009, and Romania is considered a regional leader in high-speed broadband connections. Costs have also decreased due to competition.