Romania must not terminate Public Broadcasting Licence Fee

Liviu Dragnea, elected president of Social Democratic Party (PSD) ruling party, gestures during congress of PSD to elect a new president after the Romanian Prime Minister resigned as party leader amidst a corruption probe in Bucharest October 18, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU

Update (25/10/2016)

Romania’s parliament passed a bill on Tuesday to scrap over 100 small taxes, including radio/TV fees. The EFJ and IFJ join their Romanian affiliate FAIR-MediaSind to ask the Romanian President not to promulgate this law.

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On October 17, the Romanian Senate approved a draft law to eliminate the monthly TV and radio license 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 far-reaching measure 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 European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ and IFJ), together with their Romanian affiliate, the Federation of Culture and Mass-Media FAIR-MediaSind, 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 license fees is the best way to guarantee the editorial independence of public service media, reducing the risk of political interference.

The license 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 license fee system is shown to be the most stable, transparent and adaptable way to fund Public Service Media.

The EFJ and the IFJ submitted the case today to the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism.

Picture credit: Daniel Mihailescu / AFP.

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