Romanian Media and Political Landscape Report
Romanian Media Context
Dozens of television and radio channels, over three thousand printed publications and a dynamic online media environment, this is the snapshot of Romania’s media market.
The media diet of Romanians is mostly aligned to the European trends, however, there are some important points where things diverge. One of them concerns the consumption of television, the channel which is by far the most used medium in the country, with 92% of Romanians using it on an almost daily basis.
The internet is the second most popular channel in Romania, with 42% of people using it almost daily.
Radio and the printed press rank third in terms of popularity, with less than a quarter of Romanians listening to radio daily and only 6% of them reading a newspaper (CEU Center for Media, Data and Society, 2019 estimates).
The structure of the mass-media environment could seem fragmented but the most influential media outlets, which posses the necessary prerequisites to cover the entire country are in the hands of a few players, based in Bucharest.
The television market is dominated by two companies: Central European Media Enterprises (CME), which runs Pro TV, “the eternal audience leader” in Romania, and Intact Media Group, which runs another highly popular channel, Antena 1, plus other important media outlets. The two groups together control almost half of the Romanian audience.
The online media is dynamic and vast, and contains news portals which belong to television players (ProTV, Antena, Digi24, RealitateaTV, RomaniaTV), online versions of tabloid newspapers (Libertatea and Click) and a series of small online news media outlets such as G4 Media, PressOne, DoR, Inclusiv, Recorder.
In the past years, there has been a surge in the number of online news portals, many of them addressing niche audiences and struggling from a financial perspective.
There are also, well established digital-born websites such as HotNews.ro, Stiripesurse.ro and Ziare.com which are generally profitable. Newsweek Romania, a publication licensed by Newsweek of U.S. is one of the newest news portals in the market.
Social media continues to increase its influential as a source of information, with 62% of Romanians being mainly informed from sources such as Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms. Facebook remains the undisputed leader for media content providers, followed by Instagram. LinkedIn ranks first for B2B communication.
The leading television channels in the country and radio stations such as KissFM and Radio ZU are also very well represented in online platforms.
A new element to the Romanian social media market is TikTok, which becomes an important platform for brands. TikTok, a popular platform among generation Z, was a general surprise on the market with many brands not knowing how to maximize the benefits it offers. TikTok experienced huge growth in 2019, becoming one of the most downloaded apps in the world. It now has approximately 500 million active users, spread all over the world and has over 1.1 billion registered users since March 2019 until now.
The year 2020 also marks a continuation of the content driven media trends: video (especially in the format of stories and live streaming, but also podcasts which are on the emerging trend), ad placements (in Messenger, WhatsApp), delivery platform (mobile).
Media and Politics
In 2019, Romanian mass-media mainly had to keep up with the political public agenda, being influenced to a significant extent by two major political events: the European Parliament elections held in May 2019 and the Romanian Presidential elections held in November 2019.
The preparations for the editorial-electoral strategies for the 2019-2020 election period started as early as 2018, with press institutions taking clear sides in the Traditionalism (counter-reformism) vs. Progressivism (reformism) political divide which has replaced the traditional left vs. right political spectrum approach.
In this context, the FreeEx „Libertatea Presei in Romania 2018-2019” report by Active Watch, notes that "« the media parties » made no effort to mimic at least a minimum distance between politics and journalism. “ Further on, the main political parties in Romania are making efforts to persuade journalists and KOLs in order to nimbly transfer the party's agenda in the public agenda.
Back in 2018 and 2019, the critical voices against the governmental coalition in office during that period have been demonized by the pro-government media and framed as "deep-state propaganda". Thus, the politicians of that period and the media have shared a common front and worked to develop an “apocalyptic” image of a state under siege by occult forces.
On the other hand, press institutions which were critical towards the Government in 2019, have not always acted in an un-biased manner, some of them becoming informal exclusive spokespersons for the opposition parties. That being said, the phenomenon of media polarization has increased in recent years.
From a global perspective, according to the Freedom of the Press Index carried out by Reporters without Borders, the situation of the Romanian press remains problematic. In 2019, Romania ranks 47th, losing three places in the global standings, compared to 2018, when the country ranked 44th.
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