EFJ Backs Romanian Journalists in Row Over Prime Minister's Attack on Media

The European Federation of

Journalists (EFJ), the European network of the International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) today accused Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc of

"intolerance" over the ruling party's call for an

official boycott of media in a dispute over coverage of his

government's work.

The dispute is focused on

the work of two networks -- Realitatea TV and Antena 3 -- which

the Prime Minister has accused of not giving the government an opportunity to

reply to critical reports.

"The actions of the

Prime Minister illustrate a degree of intolerance that is chilling for press

freedom," said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "Romania is

supposed to follow European standards and must not get itself caught up in

actions that try to limit the freedom of media to investigate and criticise

government. Journalists are entitled and required to

monitor politicians whether they like it or not."

According to reports,

Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc wrested the microphone from a

reporter working for the private network Realitatea TV and then publicly

accused the network of "misinforming and distorting Romanian

reality". He also claimed that both Realitatea TV and a second network

Antena 3 failed to take account of official statements in their reporting

on many governments' departments. He said he had been

"disturbed" by the fact that the government's spokeswoman was not

allowed to exercise a right of reply.

Shortly after this

incident, the ruling party (PDL) announced that no member of the party should

participate in Realitatea TV and Antena 3 programmes anymore.

The EFJ has joined

its Romanian affiliate, the Federation of Romanian Journalists MediaSind,

in deploring the stance of the Prime Minister. "This

official boycott

amounts to censorship which is unacceptable under democratic rule," added

White. "It also

bodes ill for the pluralism in Romania

media."

The

IFJ, which receives funding for humanitarian aid to victims of violence against

journalists from the Brussels-based Vintu Foundation, which was established by

the owners of Realitatea TV, says that the Prime Minister should make his

complaints about coverage in a formal and professional manner and not get

involved in physical confrontations with reporters.

For more

information contact the EFJ at   +32 2 235 2215      
The EFJ represents over 250,000

journalists in over 30 European countries