Romanian television channel OTV has started broadcasting via the internet after the country’s audiovisual council (CNA) revoked its license to air on TV. A week ago the CNA made a unanimous decision to withdraw OTV’s license to broadcast on Romanian television, however, the audiovisual council has no powers to regulate content on the internet.
Media mogul and leader of the Popular Party Dan Diaconescu heads OTV and he has already hosted a live show on the OTV website. He has come into conflict with audiovisual council numerous times over the content of OTV’s broadcasts, which has reportedly been used as a platform for political campaigning. The broadcast license, which was due to expire on March 28 this year, was withdrawn on the grounds of non-payment of fines for breaching broadcasting legislation in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
OTV, insolvent since March 2012, has received some RON 1.1 million in fines (the equivalent of EUR EUR 240,000) since 2009 .
The TV station, run by a company called Ocram Televiziune SRL, is on the list of must carry TV stations, meaning cable companies are obliged include it in their broadcasted programs. OTV’s license would have expired in March 2013.
OTV representatives have made several statements indicating that the company intends to fight the decision in both local and European courts.
The TV station ceased broadcasting on Tuesday (January 22 ), but appealed the decision. Dan Diaconescu is the main shareholder in OTV, with 80 percent of the shares. The TV station, said by commentators to fall below journalistic standards and use illegal practices, including for securing advertising, started broadcasting in 2001. It is the second time its license has been suspended, after a first such move in 2002. Dan Diaconescu also controls another TV station, DDTV, created the first time OTV’s license was suspended, and commentators expect him to move his main show, Dan Diaconescu live, onto this second channel.
Diaconescu is also a politician, having founded the party Dan Diaconescu People’s Party, which secured a few seats in the country’s Parliament in the last general elections in December 2012. Diaconescu himself failed to land a seat in the Parliament. The media investor tried to buy the Oltchim chemical producer last year, in a privatization process which was much debated. He won the bid but failed to pay for the company, instead turning the privatization into a media circus.