Another round of protests against the Government's intention to change the Criminal Code and pardon thousands of prisoners is scheduled to take place in Romania's capital Bucharest this Sunday, according to the dedicated Facebook event.
This time, the rally will also target Romania’s audiovisual watchdog CNA, as people are unhappy with the institution's lack of reaction to the way some local TV stations presented the protests organized in Romania last week.
Thousands of people took to the streets in Bucharest and other big cities last Wednesday, after the Ministry of Justice announced its two emergency ordinances aimed at changing the justice laws. Several smaller protests took place in Romania in the coming days, culminating with a massive protest on Sunday, January 22. Some 20,000 people took to the streets in Bucharest on that day, with President Klaus Iohannis also joining the protesters for about 15 minutes.
Some of the local TV stations presented the Sunday protests in a distorted way, calling them “a new miners’ riot” or “a coup start.” Moreover, one of the news TV stations presented the information that the people were paid to attend these protests, and that some even received money to bring their dogs, without bringing any real evidence to support the information.
However, the TV stations weren’t the only ones that called the protest “a miners’ riot.” In a Facebook post, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, who’s also the president of the Chamber of Deputies, said the same thing about the protests while expressing his opinion on Klaus Iohannis’ decision to also attend the rally.
The protesters are now unhappy that the audiovisual watchdog CNA hasn't taken any measures against the TV stations that didn’t present the protest in a correct manner. Thus, during their next march, they also plan to stop at the CNA headquarters on their way to the Government.
Moreover, thousands of Romanians have also signed two online petitions against Romania TV and Antena 3, two of the TV stations accused of not presenting the protest in an objective manner. One of the petitions, which was signed by more than 27,000 people, requires the removal of the two TV stations from the list of channels included in the TV subscription.
The second one, which gathered some 2,300 signatures, asks companies to stop advertising their products at these TV stations. “We will not longer buy the products advertised at Antena 3 and Romania TV until these companies officially announce that they no longer advertise their products at these TV stations. If these companies continue to buy advertising space at these stations, this means that they are identifying themselves with these stations’ values,” reads the petition’s presentation.
There is also a Facebook event that promotes a “symbolic protest” against Romania TV and Antena 3. According to its presentation, the protest aims to convince brands to no longer advertise their products at these two TV stations.
Romania TV is owned by runaway businessman Sebastian Ghita, who is being prosecuted by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) in several criminal files, while Antena 3 is controlled by jailed media mogul Dan Voiculescu, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for benefiting from the illegal privatization of a former state research institute. Both televisions are favorable to the PSD Government's initiatives on changing the justice laws and pardoning convicts. Moreover, both televisions have been attacking DNA and President Klaus Iohannis.
However, the two are also the most viewed news TV channels in Romania. Romania TV was the second most-viewed TV channel on Sunday evening, when the protests took place, with an average 912,000 viewers. Antena 3 was fifth, with 657,000 viewers. Thus, almost one in five Romanians who watched TV that evening got their information abut the protests from these two televisions.
The Save Romania Union party asked CNA to monitor all the newscasts and debates from Sunday, January 22, which reflected the protests, and sanction the ones that presented the information in a distorted way.
ActiveWatch Media Monitoring Agency, a human rights organization that militates for free communication for public interest, also asked the Parliament to urgently verify CNA's activity.
The two ordinances on justice promoted by the Ministry of Justice has attracted a lot of critics, including from President Klaus Iohannis who asked the Government to withdraw the emergency ordinances. On Monday this week, Iohannis also said that he would organize a referendum on this subject.
Irina Popescu, [email protected]
(Photo source: Sorin Ionita on Facebook)