*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.
The Romanian Senate approved on 17 October a draft law to eliminate the monthly TV and radio license fee and to introduce direct funding for public service media from state budget, which the IFJ/EFJ affiliate alerts would threaten the service's editorial independece.
The proposal, initiated by the Social-Democrats leader Liviu Dragnea, has come just a few weeks ahead of 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 International and European Federations of Journalists, (IFJ and EFJ), together with their Romanian affiliate, the Federation of Culture and Mass-Media FAIR-MediaSind, are calling on 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 fee 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 costs 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 IFJ and the EFJ today submitted the case to the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism.
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