Romania: MPs prevented censorship questions to the public TV Director General

May 7, 2018 | Legislation and Regulatory Frameworks

MPs from Romania's ruling Social Democratic Party prevented opposition politicians from asking questions at a hearing with the public broadcaster's director-general, who has been accused of censorship and insulting reporters.

Source: BalkanInsight

Romanian Public TV Manager Escapes Censorship Grilling

By Ana Maria Luca | BIRN Bucharest

MPs from Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party on Tuesday prevented questions being asked at a parliamentary hearing that was intended to quiz the public broadcaster’s director-general over accusations of political censorship and insulting the station's reporters.

After long clashes over procedure between ruling party MPs and opposition representatives who had called for the hearing, all eight Social Democrat members of the Media and Culture Commission of the Chamber of Deputies voted that director-general Doina Gradea would leave the room after her speech.

Gradea has been at the centre of a row between the Romanian Television TVR management and the public broadcaster’s employees after she was caught on tape insulting several reporters who asked uncomfortable questions during ruling party officials’ press conferences.

Journalist Dragos Patraru, the anchor of satirical news show ‘Starea Natiei’ (‘State of the Nation’), released the recording last week, after he accused the TVR management of pressuring him to “soften” his jokes, announcing he would end his show next season.

The recording sparked outrage among journalists, who circulated a letter slamming Gradea for her statements and defending a reporter she called “a pig-head who should be taken off screen”.

The reporter covered a press conference at the Social Democrat-controlled Bucharest City Hall and asked Mayor Gabriela Firea four times to publicly answer a question on public spending on new statues in the Romanian capital.

Gradea was also recorded saying that some journalists from the public broadcaster deserve to be “punched in their mouths”.

She said that journalists should be careful with criticism of the government because the TVR received more funding in 2018 than ever before.

During Tuesday’s parliamentary hearing, Gradea apologised for offending the reporter, but said that “it was a usual practice to call people by their nicknames”.

“What Dragos Patraru did is a criminal act of privacy violation,” she said.

“I apologised for the way I spoke about a colleague, a journalist… But it is a common practice to give people nicknames… I felt threatened and blackmailed by Dragos Patraru,” she added before leaving the hearing without making any comments to the media.

Opposition MPs also left the hearing in protest at the ruling party decision to block questions.

“The vote to allow Gradea to leave without answering questions] shows lack of respect for the entire media,” Liberal MP Bogdan Gorghiu told journalists.

The president of the Media and Culture Commission, Liberal MP Gigel Stirbu, announced that he will file a request to the commission’s secretariat to also call Patraru to testify. manager-escapes-censorship-grilling-05-08-2018