Romania's parliament abolishes broadcasting fees
Romanians pay just under 17 euros a year for their public broadcasters. In mid-October the parliament passed a law abolishing the fees as of 1 January 2017. Head of state Klaus Iohannis, who has yet to sign the bill into law, announced on Wednesday that there would be a public debate on the issue. Is Romania's public broadcasting programme worth protecting?
The people don't care about public broadcasters
The Romanians won't show any great interest in saving the public broadcasters, journalist Mircea Vasilescu suspects in his blog with Adevărul:
“I hope the president doesn't sign the law. True, even if he does send it back to parliament we can't expect many changes to be made; the MPs stick together. So what else can be done? A few years ago 100,000 citizens went out in protest in Prague because the prime minister put one of his confidantes in charge of the public television broadcaster there. Will anyone here in Romania go out in protest for the public broadcasters? I fear not. Not even the public seems to take any interest in the public interest.”
Public broadcasters must improve quality
It is indeed questionable whether Romania's public broadcasters are worth Romanians paying fees for it, Deutsche Welle's Romanian service points out:
“This is a good opportunity to reflect more on the issue. What is the public mandate that entitles the Romanian public broadcasters to receive fees from all the country's citizens? What indispensable service could the public broadcasters perform? Placing an emphasis on cultural topics is one option worth discussing, even if there's not a big audience for this here. Broadcasting parliamentary debates and other matters of public interest would be another option, in other words public affairs. The public broadcasters must make their programmes clearly distinguishable from those of the 'market-compliant channels'. … Only then will there be morally justifiable arguments for charging fees.”