by Eugen Cojocariu
The upper Chamber of the Romanian Parliament definitively rejected on 13 June 2016 the draft Law intended to abolish the audiovisual licence fee. The Chamber of Deputies (lower chamber) had rejected the project on 2 March 2016.
According to the initiators, 14 social-democrat Members of Parliament, the licence fee collected by the Romanian Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) would have been completely cut, without replacing it with another source of revenue. The initiators considered that the existing law is unfair and discriminates the public, which is obliged to pay for a service it does not consume or like, as well as the private broadcasters/providers.
The opponents of the draft initiative argued that cutting the licence fee, a very important source of revenue for the Romanian PBS, without replacing it with other sources of revenues, would have made it impossible for the public Radio Television to fulfil its legal mission. The Romanian Government, the parliamentary standing Committees and the National Audiovisual Council (Consiliul Naţional al Audiovizualului – CNA) issued negative opinions on the draft law. The Legislative Council (Consiliul Legislativ) had warned against a possible bankruptcy of the Romanian public broadcasters, should the licence fee be cut.
More than 66,75% of the Romanian Television’s total revenues came from the licence fee in 2015. At the same time, more than 49% of Radio Romania’s total revenues in 2015 came from the licence fee. The alternative, which was highly criticized by NGOs, other political parties and the two public service broadcasters, would have been to completely finance them by the state budget, which could significantly affect their editorial independence.
Draft Law on modification of the Art. 40 of the Law no. 41/1994 on the organization and functioning of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Company and of the Romanian Television Company – proponent’s form (Propunere legislativă pentru modificarea art. 40 din Legea nr. 41/1994 privind organizarea şi funcţionarea Societăţii Române de Radiodifuziune şi Societăţii Române de Televiziune - forma iniţiatorului) is available in Romanian language here .
The Radio Romania – 2015 Annual Report (Radio România – Raport anual 2015) is available in Romanian language here .
The Romanian Television Corporation – 2015 Activity Report (Societatea Română de Televiziune - Raport de activitate 2015) is available in Romanian language here . Tags: