13 Nov 2017 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 09 Oct 2017 n° 115/2017 Romania

Draft Law Threatens Independence of AGERPRES News Agency

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
Partner EFJ/IFJ RSF
A new draft law, which risks threatening the independence of the national news agency AGERPRES, will be discussed on 11 October 2017 by the Romanian Parliament. The draft law foresees that any political majority could decide to dismiss the director-general by rejecting AGERPRES’ anual report, whereas the current law stipulates that the director-general has a 5-year mandate and cannot be biased, meaning promoting the ideas, the programmes and the activities of the political parties. Such provisions would have the same impact as the legislation regulating the management of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation (SRR) and the Romanian National Television Corporation (SRTV): following each election, the SRR and SRTV administration boards can be dismissed before the end of their mandates to reflect the new political forces and many media freedom organisations had denounced this provision as an instrument to politicize the public service media.

In a letter addressed to Parliament, AGERPRES’ general-director and the Romanian trade union of journalists said: “We believe that the proposed modification opens the path to a political subordination of the AGERPRES management. (…) Any political force could find that the director-general is not ‘loyal’ enough to the government, regardless of the quality of the work, for political reasons only. It must be abandoned.” The draft law has been initiated and submitted by Lucian Romascanu, now Minister of Culture, while he was president of the Culture Committee of the Romanian Senate. The proposal was also signed by four other senators.
Updates
31 Oct 2017
On 30 October 2017, the Romanian Senate voted the law with 64 votes in favour, 16 against and 27 abstentions. The law is now supposed to be submitted to the National Assembly.
State replies
13 Nov 2017
Response from the Romanian authorities
Follow-ups
02 May 2017
The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights details the prerequisites for well-funded and strong public service media.
Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer
15 Dec 2016
Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on public service media governance (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 15 February 2012 at the 1134th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
Disclaimer
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