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Senate adopts law calling for "equality" in the transmission of good and bad news by radio and television stations

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 27 June 2008 media release from the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an IFJ regional group:

EFJ Condemns Romanian Law Calling for Good/Bad News "Equality"

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, today protested the adoption by the Romanian Senate of a draft law obliging radio and television stations to transmit positive and negative news "in an equal proportion."

"One can hardly think about a more absurd proposal than a 'good news and bad news' law," said EFJ Chairman Arne König. "This is obvious political interference in the editorial work of journalists. We cannot understand the motivation of this law and we call on the President of Romania to veto it."

The Romanian Senate adopted, unanimously, the draft law initiated by PRM (Big Romania Party) Senator Gheorghe Funar and by the PNL (Liberal Party) Deputy Ioan Ghise. According to this law, news should be broadcast "equally" in a positive and negative way in order "to improve the general climate and to offer the chance to the public to have a balanced view of everyday life, psychologically and emotionally as well."

The EFJ believes that the law is absurd, not least because it includes no criteria for classifying news in positive or negative categories.

The EFJ affiliate, US MediaSind, said in a statement that the law is an "attempt of the political parties to fence freedom of expression," and an "attack against journalists" since it breaks the Romanian Constitution (art.30, paragraph 1), European Convention of Human Rights (art.10, paragraph 1) as well as the Ethic Code of Journalists enclosed in the Collective Labor Agreement at Mass-Media Level.

It is a totally anti-democratic and anti-professional measure, said the EFJ.

Romanian journalists have been subject to continuous and serious pressures in recent months, said the EFJ, including verbal attacks on journalists by politicians, politisation of the leading structures of public broadcasting, the recriminalisation of defamation and libel, attempts to abrogate the Law of Free Access to Public Information and the Law of Institutional Transparency, and plans to modify the Penal Code in order to jail journalists who release video or audio recordings without the subject's approval.

The EFJ urges Romanian President Traian Basescu to veto the "good news" law and to do everything in his power to make sure that press freedom standards are respected in his country.

The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over 30 countries in Europe.

For further information on the recent harassment of journalists, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/92332

For further information on the recriminalisation of defamation, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/80616

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