Romanian party leader says Parliament poised to remove public TV, radio bosses

Romania’s parliamentary speaker says it’s a top priority to change management at the scandal-ridden public television station and public radio and remove a politically biased official from the post of ombudsman.

 Ludovic Orban, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, said on Tuesday that the situation should be resolved by Parliament in the next two weeks.

The former prime minister said Parliament had given the culture commissions until March 1 to examine the 2019 reports from TVR and SRR, the public radio station.

Following the review, Parliament will vote on the reports. If lawmakers reject the reports, top management and the management board are dismissed at both stations.

The ruling coalition agreed in December that the Liberals would manage the public television station and the Save Romanian Union junior partners the public radio. Journalists at the stations say they want professionals in key positions and not political hacks.  

Mr Orban, who is chairman of the Liberal Party, also said the Liberals were seeking by parliamentary vote to remove Renate Weber as ombudsman citing rulings she made against the government during the early months of the pandemic, widely viewed as politically motivated.

The former human rights lawyer who lost her seat as a European Parliament lawmaker in 2019, is a member of a party that failed win any seats in the  December 2020 elections. Her term expires in 2024.

In recent years, the Romanian Television Station, TVR, has been managed by an internal board that was biased in favor of the Social Democratic Party, the left-leaning populist group which was in office from late 2016 until 2019.

Earlier this year, Liberal lawmaker Alexandru Muraru called for a parliamentary inquiry into the television station over suspicions of fraud and accusations of political propaganda.

Romanian public television operates five channels and half a dozen regional studios. In theory it is supposed to be politically balanced.

Its main channel, TVR1, has 99.8% coverage with TV2 covering 91% coverage. Although it has fewer viewers than the most popular private networks, it has wider variety of services such as international viewing and webcasts.

Mr Muraru cited allegations of censorship, internal fights, financial scandals, news that favored the Social Democratic Party, skewed coverage of the Liberal and other center-right parties, talk-shows that were „turned into Social Democrat propaganda,” suspicions about the misuse of funds and the marginalization of credible journalists, as well as political commentators who were  „dogged defenders of the PSD,” he said in January.


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