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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Don't believe a word you read!

An important article in Transitions Online about the politicisation of the Romanian media by Marius Dragomir
 - A week after the old government collapsed, the new one put the squeeze on the public service broadcaster, TVR. The station’s governors voted 3 May to sack the director of editorial production and programming, Dan Radu. The move was made at the request of Claudiu Branzan, a member of the governing council nominated by the Social Democrats, who said Radu should go because programming changes he advocated were bringing down TVR’s ratings.TVR journalists told me Branzan’s move was in retaliation for the refusal of General Director Alexandru Lazescu to hire the Social Democrats’ candidate as head of information and sports programming.The attack is nothing new in the post-1990 history of the public service broadcaster. Run by a politically appointed council, TVR has seen managers come and go during changes in power, and over the years its independence and fairness have been seriously questioned. The main problem for TVR is not the performance of a certain employee. The public broadcaster and the media in general are neck-deep in a serious politicization crisis. For years, independent voices pushed for new laws to bar each new crop of politicians from sticking their fingers into TVR management. But parliament dropped the matter in 2005 without any action. Newly elected Prime Minister Victor Ponta pledged that his government wouldn’t sack TVR’s staff on political grounds. But that is exactly what is happening. Many signs of things to come are in the air. Days after taking over, the new government picked Andrei Zaharescu as its spokesman. Zaharescu is a news anchor at Antena 1, one of the biggest private stations in Romania and part of a media group controlled indirectly by Dan Voiculescu, a politician-businessman who supports the new government.
At the local level, smaller broadcasters are underfunded and remain under the thumb of city halls and politicians.With three elections – local, national, and presidential – coming up in early June, the use of media as a proxy for political fights is likely to take unexpected turns.
It's not only the media which is under political pressure and guidance. Two days after the Education Minister resigned, the National Committee of Ethics in Research was fired for 'incompetence' reasons by the acting E&R Minister Liviu Pop (a mathematics high-school teacher). The new Ethics Committee has been accused of being composed mainly of personnel closely related to the prominent SDP member and former Minister Prof. Ecaterina Andronescu.

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