Thousands of layoffs and press owners at the centre of public debates, here are the most important characteristics of Romanian mass-media developments in 2010 according to the most recent FreeEx report on freedom of the press, a report authored by the Press Monitoring Agency and published yesterday.
The report shows that on the media market, a market that continues to be strongly affected by the crisis, “political involvement and the involvement of obscure interests in the editorial activities of some press institutions had negative repercussions in the business sphere too.” The WAZ German media group’s decision to pull back from the local media market was given as an example in that sense. “Important press owners were at the centre of public debates: Sorin Ovidiu Vintu was detained for being an accessory, Dan Diaconescu for blackmail, Dan Voiculescu was exposed as a collaborator for the former Securitate etc. The press institutions under their control covered these events in an unbalanced, biased and in some cases hysterical manner,” the report shows. The authors also criticize the plummeting quality of editorial content and the fact that tabloid journalism is being favored. “Relevant and verifiable editorial content is at risk of extinction, being choked by hysterical and manipulative pack journalism, biased opinions and infotainment. Televisions have turned the deaths of public persons into macabre shows, the result of the press’s professional decay,” the report adds.
The Press Monitoring Agency also criticized some legislative initiatives concerning the press, but also the law on the basis of which the public radio and television operate, a law that “hasn’t been reformed.” The report did not leave out the fact that the press was included among national security vulnerabilities in the National Defence Strategy. The authors also asked for clearer advertisement regulations, pointing out that the press shows a very high level of masked advertisement.