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Report examines political, economic pressures faced by Romanian TV stations

A family watches the royal wedding on television in the small Transylvanian village of Viscri, 29 April 2011.
A family watches the royal wedding on television in the small Transylvanian village of Viscri, 29 April 2011.

REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

ActiveWatch has released "The Political Map of Local Televisions," a qualitative research report that looks into the current situation of local TV stations regarding their financial status, sources of funding (including public funding), the political and economic pressures they are subject to, ownership and its political and business connections and professionalization and self-regulation levels. Furthermore, the research report set out to identify the best solutions to improve the economic dynamics and to ensure the independence of local media.

"The Political Map of Local Televisions" report can be found here.

56 local television stations in 15 counties of Romania were researched. Approximately 200 interviews with journalists, editors, managers, producers, media owners, politicians and media experts were conducted.

One main outcome of the study is the existence of an alarmingly high number of cases in which local TV stations constitute a political and economic weapon sponsored, directly or indirectly, from public funding. Thus, almost half of the 56 TV stations included in the research are influenced by politicians, directly or indirectly. Moreover, almost half of these TV stations could be documented as direct beneficiaries of sponsorship from public funding, but the number is probably much higher.

The x-ray is shocking. According to the type of content disseminated by local TV stations, Romanians are unaware of living in an informational desert. As serious as the situation of the local TV stations might be, [there is a] big opportunity for honest, initiative-driven journalists who have the patience to identify the community's needs regarding information.

The county reports are available only in Romanian. The main ownership, political and business connections, sources of funding data, as well as other relevant data are published on an interactive map, that is open to updates coming from interested parties. The map is available (only in Romanian at this stage) here, and it was set-up due to the volunteer work of digital cartography engineers of, a Romanian NGO partner of ActiveWatch in The Sponge Media Lab. The map is built on open source geospatial software. The map, including the data uploaded by ActiveWatch, is free for download and can be used, shared and adapted under a CC BY 3.0 license.

The research as well as the publication of this study was made possible due to financial support coming from the Open Society Media Program.

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