Romania: the press doesn't want tax relief
The Romanian Chamber of Deputies has passed a law exempting journalists and technicians in radio and broadcasting from income tax. In an open letter, 13 prominent Romanian journalists are now calling on President Klaus Iohannis not to sign the law on the grounds that it constitutes unfair preferential treatment. Commentators fear the media's independence will be further jeopardised.
Don't further damage journalists' reputation
Unfair perks lead straight to dependence on those in power, warns co-signatory Cătălin Tolontan in Libertatea:
“The tax exemption is unfair because many media institutions are already tolerated by the state in a sort of sustained insolvency which would be inadmissible in other sectors. The situation distorts competition and introduces the category of 'exempted companies' which, however, are thus dependent on the whims of politicians. ... Instead of giving handouts to journalists and thus further worsening their already damaged reputation, the state should do a better job of getting Google and Facebook to pay taxes on their income in Romania.”
Just let us do our job
Rather than trying to charm him and his journalist colleagues, politicians should focus on enhancing press freedom and the flow of information, Gabriel Bejan writes on news website Hotnews:
“There are far more important things: for example ensuring that the media are subject to neither direct nor indirect political control - in particular the local press, which is dependent on the local 'barons'. In addition, access to public information should no longer be blocked and requests for such information should be answered within a reasonable period of time. Finally, there should be advisors and officials in the authorities who are at least as intelligent as journalists. They could then at least provide the politicians with a few more plausible arguments.”