IFJ/ EFJ accuse Romanian lawmakers of undermining democracy

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group the European Federation of Journalists today accused Romanian lawmakers of undermining the democracy following changes to the law covering national radio and television that reinforce political control of public broadcasting. 

The IFJ is supporting angry journalists and media staff who are protesting over sudden changes to the law that remove staff representatives from the administration board of the state broadcaster and replace them with political appointments. 

“Romania is in danger of stepping back into the past and the dark days of state control of media,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ and the EFJ. “The fact that these changes have been rushed through, without proper consultation and in the face of opposition from the workforce suggests a concerted political attack on public broadcasting.” 

The IFJ says that media staff were rightly angered when today – only 24 hours after the new rules had been passed into law – the Parliamentary Commission for Culture and Media invited media representatives to take part in a public debate about the changes. 

“Changing media law without consultation is not democratic, it is the hallmark of autocratic politics,” said White, who warned that protests over this latest development could influence current discussions with the European Union over Romania’s application for membership. 

The protests of journalists and media staff were led by the IFJ affiliate MediaSind, which groups four unions of staff covering the workforce in the publicly-owned Romanian Radio Society (SRR) and Romanian Public Television (SRTV). 

The unions have protested over the rush to change the law and the impact of changes in the membership of the administration boards. “Our colleagues are rightly worried that politicians are less concerned about the future of public broadcasting than the need to consolidate their own influence over how the broadcaster operates,” said White. 

The MediaSind have boycotted the parliamentary hearing called for today and instead called on Parliament to reverse decisions over who sits on the Administrations Boards of radio and television. 

“This is a profound crisis for public broadcasting and we will give our colleagues full support in their fight for reform that strengthens the quality and independence of broadcasting and which eliminates political influence over the system,” said White. ­