Media Pluralism Monitor 2015: Media pluralism endangered in Romania, yet no European country risk-free

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Media pluralism is endangered in Romania and the rest of Europe is not free of risk either, but of all 19 states covered by the Media Pluralism Monitor 2015 report presented on Wednesday by the Median Research Centre (MRC), Romania is the only one that raises red flags at all mass-media major assessment benchmarks, the basic requirements for a functional media included.

The report presents the state of play in mass-media in 19 EU member states. Romania is included for the first time in the survey conducted by MRC.

To identify the risk areas that could endanger the freedom and pluralism of mass media, experts from 19 EU countries looked at the regulations aimed at ensuring a good functioning of the media and to what extent they are observed in practice in Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

According to the document, the highest risks in Romania but also in the other covered European states are connected to concentration of media ownership, the limited media skills of the population, the politicisation of control over media outlets, the editorial independence of public service media, state advertising or even the safety of the journalists.

The most severe issues have to do with media pluralism, where Romania borders on the highest risk area (66 percent), social inclusion (55 percent) and political independence (47 percent). Specifically, the highest risks include the absence of transparency on ownership concentration, the politicisation of control over media ownership, the independence of the public television channel (TVR), the low media skills of the audience and the precarious nature of journalistic careers.

According to information presented by MRC representative Adina Marincea, although in terms of basic protection Romania is near the low risk limit, the country’s being the only of 19 that lacks the basic conditions for a functional media mainly because of issues related to the statute of the journalists is a reason for serious concern.

Frequent irregularities in payments and high job insecurity, as well as a generally difficult economic situation in the media, especially newspapers, render journalism in a very precarious situation, open to instrumentalisation / external influences, as the journalists lack the necessary means to protect themselves – law or self-regulatory measures, strong organisations to represent them etc. In this difficult context it is unlikely that the Romanian media produce quality content in the public interest, the survey shows.

Although European countries’ mass-media function by various patterns, the states face similar issues, shows the survey conducted under the project Media Pluralism Monitor 2015, with the participation of MRC and Open Politics.