Compared to some of its immediate neighbours, Romania’s media system seems relatively open and diverse. However, press freedom violations are regularly noted and include smear campaigns against independent media, obstructions to accessing public information, or political pressure. Moreover, the economic vulnerability of the independent press significantly increases its risk of being captured by political and business groups. Romania will have a super electoral year in 2024 with four elections taking place. The country will hold presidential, parliamentary, local, and European elections. How will the media fare in covering these elections?

MFRR in Focus, a series of podcasts by IPI as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), puts these and other issues in the spotlight. As the Romanian elections approach, we will examine the relationship between the three main political parties in Romania to the mainstream media and social media platforms and the impact this relationship might have on media freedom.

As few media outlets are able to generate sufficient revenue on their own to afford to make ends meet, political advertising money is a significant source of income for many. Except for a few big television networks and tabloids, most media outlets struggle to fund their work. Local media are the most vulnerable to pressures coming from politicians and political parties, government and municipalities, or local businessmen. They are also the media outlet with the most underserved public. To add to this complex web of relationships, social media is now used by right-wing politicians successfully to gain access, particularly to vulnerable audiences. 

This episode of the MFRR In Focus explores the economic relationship between the main political parties in Romania and the media and discusses the tools right-wing political parties use to circumvent mainstream media and reach new audiences directly.

Guests: Adina Marincea, a researcher and media scholar, “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania

Producer and Host: Dumitrița Holdiș, Central and Eastern Europe Media Support Coordinator

Editor: Dumitrița Holdiș, Central and Eastern Europe Media Support Coordinator

Additional Reading:

Marincea, Adina. (2022). Whistling to the Right Publics? AUR’s Doublespeak in Reaction to Antisemitism Allegations. Holocaust. Studii şi cercetări, 14(15), 199-234.