A New Project of Amending the Media Services Code Provides for More Prime Time Hours for TV Channels

A new draft law registered by the Parliament on September 28 by a group of deputies from the Party of Action and Solidarity provides for several amendments to the Code of Audiovisual Media Services, detailing and clarifying the rules on prime time and self-promotional spots. According to the authors of the legislative initiative, the document is aimed at avoiding different interpretations and irregular application of the law and adjusting the existing regulatory framework to the current circumstances.

The draft suggests regarding self-promotional spots as local programs due to using the newsroom’s resources to create them. Besides, it provides for increasing the prime time hours for TV services by one hour in the morning and in the evening, from 06.00 to 10.00 and from 17.00 to 24.00, respectively. It would contribute to the strict observance of the provision regarding 75% of local programs in the content, including commercial information – 12 minutes per broadcasting hour – in prime time, as well as to drafting an attractive program schedule for the public.

On the other hand, it suggests obliging media service providers “to broadcast local audiovisual programs in a proportion of at least 80% of the total amount of the programs produced in the Romanian language; an exception will be made only for the media providers whose broadcasting media services are intended for the communities in the administrative territorial units where an ethnic minority represents a majority of the population and who have an obligation to broadcast at least 25% of the local audiovisual programs in Romanian, as well as self-produced audiovisual programs in the language of the respective minority.”

Other amendments to the law concern financing and transparency of broadcaster ownership. It is suggested to supplement the sanctions for those who breach the provisions on audiovisual commercial communications, applying fines for each case of breach detected. It also provides for the sanctions in case of omitting publication of activity reports on the broadcaster’s own webpages by February 1 of the following year or for failure to comply with the obligation to ensure the transparency of editorial policy and ownership of media service providers.

Most of them were drafted on the basis of the TV channels’ requests expressed during the meetings and public events on application of the provisions regarding local audiovisual programs. During the round-table discussion held by the BC in early September, several broadcasters recommended introducing the same amendments.

The Parliamentary Commission for the Media announced the public consultations on the draft law for October 4.

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