The EBU is deeply concerned by the proposal to abolish the licence fee in Romania. The proposal is part of a broader plan to reduce taxes ahead of the upcoming elections.
The EBU believes removing stable funding from TVR and Radio Romania would seriously endanger public service media (PSM) in the country and expose it to political pressure. It has written to the Romanian Parliament and Prime Minister to express its concern.
Public service television in Romania has faced many challenges in relation to governance and funding recently and is already in a perilous state.
Broadcasting fees and similar contributions by citizens are not only the most stable sources of funding for PSM, but also the most widespread across Europe. In 2015, the licence fee contributed two thirds of all income for public service media among the EBU membership. As a recent EBU report demonstrated (LINK), broadcasting fees are the most transparent and adaptable source of PSM funding. It establishes a direct link between broadcasters and the public, making them more accountable to the audience they serve. Radio Romania has proved to be a very successful example of this.
The licence fee is also the key element in safeguarding the independence of PSM from political and economic pressure. Direct State funding for PSM is notoriously unstable and difficult to secure in times of austerity. It also exposes public service broadcasters to potential political interference.
EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre said: “We appeal to the Romanian Parliament not to take such an irredeemable step which risks destroying the fabric of PSM in the country.
“PSM funding in Romania is in urgent need of reform but that should be done in line with European standards and the EBU is already working with TVR on a peer to peer review to support its growth.”
The Romanian bill has already passed through the Senate and will be presented to Parliament next week.