The TV-radio license fee is one of the 102 fees that Romania’s Parliament has decided to cancel.
Although Romania's President Klaus Iohannis sent the
bill providing for the elimination of 102 fees, including the TV-radio licence
fee, back to Parliament, the bill has been endorsed again by the Senate in its
initial form. 82 senators from the Social Democratic Party, the Alliance of
Liberals and Democrats and the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians deemed the
president's arguments ungrounded and stood against the reexamination of the
bill, while the representatives of the National Liberal Party, the People's
Movement Party and the Save Romania Union voted in favour.
A former minister of culture, Save Romania Union
senator Vlad Alexandrescu has drawn attention to the fact that the elimination
of the TV and radio fee affects the autonomy of public services. Moreover, it
infringes upon citizens' right to information, the senator has also stated:
"Instead of just being accountable to citizens, the
Romanian public television and the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation will
have to answer to the Government and the politicians who will propose and
approve their budgets. Given that the politicisation of the two public services
is already at the highest level, having them become financially dependent on
the Government might lead to them becoming fully obedient to the ruling power."
On the other hand, the leader of the Social Democrat
senators Serban Nicolae has given assurances that there are resources for the
two public services to function properly. Serban Nicolae:
"This fee was normally collected on a monthly basis.
The decision will not affect the budgets of the public television and radio
services, because the budget law will provide for the necessary resources for
them to be able to function without becoming dependent on politicians' will."
"The issues facing the public television and radio
are old and systemic, mainly because of the legislation that governs them",
said the president in his request for reexamination. According to Klaus
Iohannis, a decision regarding these services' funding sources can only be made
within a broader scope and with the aim of genuinely reforming the activity of
the public television and radio services, and the debate cannot be just about
whether a fee to support them is necessary or not. Passing at high speed
through Parliament during the election campaign, the bill on the elimination of
102 fees has triggered controversies and fierce debates on the public stage.
Defenders of the fee, including media organisations
and experts, say that giving up this fee and funding the public media services
exclusively from the state budget would create the background for their full
subordination to political decisions.