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A law project suspends broadcasting licences for TVs in insolvency; Realitatea TV – some say the new rules apply, some say they don’t.

 

art. 81 Codul insolventei, monitorul oficialRadios and TVs in indolvency, such is the case of Realitatea TV, could lose the possibility to achieve their main activity objective, which is broadcasting programs, Hotnews writes.

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According to project’s latest version, accessible on Ministry of Justice’s website, the new Insolvency Code includes an article that doesn’t exist in the project debated initially and that says that, for channels in insolvency, the audiovisual licence is suspended until their reorganization plan is confirmed.

The quoted source mentions that the same document available on Ministry’s website says that, in such cases, the procedure also applies to insolvency procedures that are running, such is the case of Realitatea TV.

HotNews also writes that:

If this modification is approved, in the case of broadcasters (radios and TVs), audiovisual licence is suspended after the procedure starts and until the date the reorganization plan is confirmed. By loosing the license, the channels in insolvency cannot broadcast anymore, so they cannot achieve their main activity objective that generates revenues. If they stop broadcasting, than TVs aren’t producing money anymore, so they cannot pay their debts so they are condemned to close the business.

The same document states that its articles do not apply to running insolvencies, with some exceptions. The exceptions aren’t applied for the articles related to audiovisual.
The Insolvency Code was launched in public debate by Justice Ministry as a law project in the start of September and was approved on October 2nd by Romanian Government, through an emergency ordinance.

CNA’s president, on Insolvency Code: Realitatea TV isn’t under the incidence of the Code
Laura Georgescu, CNA’s president, stated, for HotNews.ro, that the article that appeared in the latest accessible version of the Insolvency Code, that could make imposible for the broadcasters to broadcast if they enter insolvency, does not apply to Realitatea Media’s case.

“The article applies exclusively to those that don’t have an approved reorganization plan. Therefor, Realitatea isn’t under the incidence of this article, as it has the reorganization plan approved since June 12th”, Georgescu said

Insisting she is making known her personal opinion and that she isn’t an expert in insolvency, Georgescu said that, although suspending the audiovisual license doesn’t exist as a term in Audiovisual law, it can be applied considering the license is an administrative act and applying the suspension would stop the broadcasting of the affected stations.

About the advantages of this measure: “When you announce you demanded to enter insolvency, the article doesn’t make anything else than to reduce the period that passes until the reorganization plan”, CNA’s president said

Insolvency Code published, TVs entering insolvency can’t broadcast anymore
The new Insolvency Code, that says that TVs in insolvency are having their broadcasting license suspended until their reorganization plan is confirmed, was published in Romania’s Official Monitor.

The Emergency Ordinance was published in the Official Monitor just a day after the new code was approved during a Government’s meeting. The emergency ordinance will produce effects starting October 25th.

ActiveWatch and Reporters Without Borders are protesting: We will refer this to the European Commission

ActiveWatch and Reporters Without Borders are protesting related to the new measures introduced by Romanian Government in the Insolvency Law, approved by the Government through an Emergency Ordinance and that was already published in Romania’s Official Monitor.

The 2 organizations say they will refer the matter to the European Commision, as they conside this matter “a grave manace made by Romania’s Government towards the liberty of press”.

“ActiveWatch and Reporters Without Borders are condemning Romania Government’s decision to adopt, with a total lack of transparency, a normative act that includes measures that are endangering mass-media’s liberty and public’s right to be informed. By supporting this law, the Government opens a new chapter in the history of the political and economical control over press institutions in Romania”, an ActiveWatch press release shows.

Mircea Toma, president ActiveWatch, considers the law measure on insolvency “is an aggression against press’ liberty, against freedom of speech and against the free access to information of public interest”

“It is a dramatic situation and we hope we won’t get there. We made an analysis this morning, that was taken over by more TVs, and we were saying in it that foundamental law principles are disrespected”, Toma mentioned.

Among the law principles disrespected, Mircea Toma mentioned: discriminative (refers only to some economic actors, namely those that base their functioning on licenses), retroactive (affects entities already in insolvency, although when they enter that state, the law didn’t existed so they had no possibility to consider it), contradiction of the principle of the law in which is included (Insolvency Code is made to help companies that are trying to get back on their feet, but impending their functioning means no getting back on track and faliment).

Among the consequences of the new code, Toma mentioned: media entities disappearance, that also leads to suspend access for citizens to information sources, modifies Audiovisual Law, where license suspension doesn’t exist as a term and contradicts other articles of the mentioned law that define the conditions when the audiovisual license can be withdrawn.

CJI:The ordinance instaurates a discriminatory regime on Romanian mass-media market

The law stipulation that allows suspending audiovisual licenses for broadcasters in insolvency are “restrictive, affects the liberty of press, instaurates a discriminatory regime within the mass-media market and creates premises for possible abuses”, appreciates Romanian Center for Independent Journalism, managed by Ioana Avadani.
The organization also mentions that the incriminated stipulation “brings major abuse risks, allowing the state – through its position as a creditor – to remove from the market the broadcasters deemed inconvenient”.

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