Week 37: Vîntu spends his first days in custody

Sorin Ovidiu Vîntu was taken into custody for helping a convicted criminal. MPs with the ruling party plan to censor print and online media outlets. Romanian news sites have higher advertising rate-cards than The New York Times. Romanian online advertising market is going down, while European-wide it is on the way up. TV stars from Romania get shows in the Republic of Moldova.

Media owner Sorin Ovidiu Vîntu was arrested on a 29-day warrant on charges of helping a criminal. His actual deed was to send money to Nicolae Popa in Indonesia. The latter was a fugitive there, while convicted in Romania on charges of folding a Ponzi scheme called FNI, in which about 300,000 people invested their savings after promised huge earnings in return. Popa was the front, while Vîntu was alleged to be the real mastermind of the FNI investment scheme. But prosecutors where never able to pin Vîntu down for this. Ziarul Financiar daily commented that “The (present) reason for the arrest seems irrelevant when compared with previous allegations regarding Vantu’s managing of the pyramidal scheme FNI.” Following his arrest, Vantu alleged his archenemy President Traian Basescu was behind it. Adevarul daily noted that the coverage of the events raised the ratings of television channels, including that of Realitatea TV 24-hour news channel, owned by Vîntu.

A group of MPs with the ruling Democrat Liberal Party, or PDL, put forth a draft law regulating the supervision of the print and online media by the National Council for the Electronic Media, or CNA, Puterea daily writes. So far the body was in charge of regulating radio and television broadcasts only, while print and other media didn’t have a specific law. Silviu Prigoana, one of the MPs writing the proposal and former owner of the 24-hour news channel Realitatea TV, said the burden of proof should stay with the media outlets when alleging someone engaged in illegal acts. According to Hotnews.ro, The Center for Independent Journalism commented that “Europe-wide, any legal request for licensing print and online media outlets is perceived as a crude method of censorship.” Media outlets and NGOs, but also the Presidency, said they disagreed with the draft law.

The online advertising market in Romania dropped 5% in 2009, compared with 2008. In absolute figures, it reached 13 million Euro, an AdEx report quoted by Hotnews.ro found. The figures are not consistent with the estimate made by ROADS, which put the market at 15.4  million Euro. The downtrend goes against the uptrend recorded around Europe, where the Internet advertising went up on average by 4.5%.

Prime, the leader of the TV market in the Republic of Moldova, offered Andrei Gheorghe a contract for a series of talk-shows called ‘Salutare, națiune!’ (‘What’s Up, People?’), Comanescu.ro said. Gheoghe is the 2nd Romanian TV star in Prime’s schedule this Autumn, after Dan Negru (‘Operacion Triunfo’ and ‘Deal or not Deal’). Prime is a localization of the Russian channel Pervîi.

Press review provided by KMP TRANSLATIONS

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