How the TV stations Antena 3 and RomaniaTV feel the pinch of the anti-corruption uprising. What works and what doesn’t against abusive TV programs
Translation: Fairpress
Eight of the top ten advertising clients which Antena 3 had in January withdrew their advertising or have reduced it substantially in the last two weeks. Nine of Romania TV customers did the same. CNA members too started to come more often to work and to at least try to apply sanctions on the two channels. It happened after intense pressure from people protesting against government abuse, but also against abuse by TV channels which support the government, lie and manipulate. How real and lasting are such reactions? How legal, economically reasonable or simply feasible in the current political context are such things demanded by the protesters?

Why people protest against TV channels

The two channels mentioned are far from being the only media outlets that routinely commit slippages. But unlike other news stations, newspapers or websites unreservedly engaged in the political struggle, as opposed to “fake news” sites online, TV and Antena 3 Romania are the only ones who claim they have secured a captive audience and, by their attitude, make sure the constant media attacks against judiciary are mentioned every year in the MCV  report.

What have they done since the beginning of 2017?

Antena 3 TV and RomaniaTV were, together with PSD Dragnea, Grindeanu, Iordache and Tariceanu, among the main targets of demonstrations in the past two weeks. The reason is that the two stations, the stands politicians say:

  • Propagated the rhetoric of PSD-ALDE in view of the amendments to the anti-corruption laws (as adopted, why, what purpose do they), manipulated, misinformed and intoxicated about these legislative initiatives,
  • manipulated, misinformed and intoxicated viewers about the protests in Victoria and later at Cotroceni, in accordance with the speech Government (proportions protests nature “violence” of those in Victoria, “irrelevant” number of participants, Soros money those who come with children and dogs, conspiracy Collective gender-Bamboo mixture services, etc.). Were aligned with government attacks against multinationals – the more so as most international companies withdrew their advertisements on the two channels.
  • manipulated, misinformed and intoxicated about the positions taken by President Johannis, justice bodies, embassies, international institutions, other governments etc.

This attitude follows on the same editorial line that Antena 3, controlled by Dan Voiculescu, one approaches a decade, matched and surpassed in some places by Romania TV last year – see manipulations unprecedented electoral and anti-justice, in Sebastian Ghita’s favor and PSD in 2016.

  • When the protests have peaked, Antena 3 gives the impression of a retreat in the position of “moderator” who wants to “remove the wrath of Romania”. But beyond promotional campaigns statement that must be obeyed and Victoria Square crowds, speech generally remains the same as that of the ruling coalition, and the attitude towards the governing party – just as friendly.

The protesters demanded that the two posts to answer for what they do. And they have turned their attention to the main pillars of a business television, after those who remain captive audience out of your account and the “back” of owners secured financial policies. Namely advertising (advertising relationship with clients), law (National Audiovisual Council) and its relationship with the cable companies.

I. Advertising

HotNews.ro information from the first week in February and Romania Antena 3 TV advertising clients have delivered less than half the points target audience * on commercial (urban, ages 18-49) that they, on average per week in January. The reason: a large number of customers have either completely withdrawn advertising from two positions, be they small or moved campaigns spots in prime time (prime time interval) in different time with much smaller audience.

(* In simplest terms, point the audience is a percentage that represents the number of viewers who watch at a time, a television program (in this case, a TV ad), the total viewers or total viewers for some target group. Point audience is the sole currency used in transactions of TV advertising.)

From TV commercials audience data consulted by HotNews.ro, it appears that:

  • Antena 3, two of the top ten commercial clients advertising from January (ie eliminating the “CNA”, which requires commercials in advertising package) withdrew completely commercial, and six had either withdrew in great part, be they moved it in other dayparts.
  • On TV Romania, one of the top ten customers withdrew completely creative and eight have either withdrew it in bulk or moved it in time slots with low audience. Among those in the first week of February they had fewer points than the average weekly audience since January and include Winmasters, brand associated Sebastian Ghita.
  • With one exception, multinationals are in the top 20 advertising clients withdrew advertising completely or almost completely. Note that not all advertising on both posts and had as many large companies still are not found in the top of the consumption of advertising because advertising had little on the two posts.

Other articles on declining advertising at the two stations: Paginademedia.ro:

Clients and advertising agencies were earlier protests, the target of several types of pressure. From the beginning emerged lists of brands visible on the two posts, and later lists brands that have withdrawn, given as an “example” to the left “to support misery”. Advertisers themselves, many of them participants in the protests, were divided into two camps – those who sustain pressure on brands and those who argue that brands have no responsibility about what happens outside of commercial breaks on TV advertising.

What kind of pressure works and which does not?

a. Calls to boycott TV stations. People have a right to urge a boycott of products when they conflict with their principles – in this case, the financial support that the contents of the two posts. Such calls have existed in the past, both in connection with the tabloid shows (Antena 1 Pro TV, Kanal D) and in relation to broadcasts news station Antena 3.

But the only results were statements not confirm nor refute a brand withdrew from the post (type “currently, the brand X not campaigning for the post Y”), or statements that the brand values ​​its consumers and place beyond disputes / media scandals – see if Zuzu-Antena 3 a year ago.

Boycott products Unhappy a certain group of people is an old phenomenon worldwide and analyzed extensively over time – see, for example, a long article explaining why not work usually calls popular boycott of products as happens with brands and Romania on Antena 3 TV. And why professional work boycott actions, aiming punctual values of a brand (eg boycotting products bearing the brand of clothing and other brands Ivanka Trump engaged in fighting US policy under Donald Trump ).

  • An exceptional case, relevant risks faced by brands when they are caught in the middle in the major confrontations of views, was recently at the Breitbart.com website conservative media which has become the benchmark in pro-Trump camp as a “model” for so-called “evidence-based alternative news”. In autumn, cereal maker Kellogg’s has withdrawn the advertisement on this site since the content did not match the brand values, which sparked the counter reaction, a call of the influential Breitbart as his readers to boycott the brand. Equally relevant, Breitbart had no way to react when was blacklisted by AppNexus, one of the online advertising technology companies which supplied automatically advertise on this site.

The argument is usually the client companies that their advertising does not have political color, it is placed in special blocks, so out of editorial space, and the brand has no place in the political struggle, but the struggle market for several clients. If those customers are on a post or another unpopular with the other section of the population, how they can ignore the job? Solving tense situations not from customers but from the authorities, namely the NAC, call argument traditional advertisers.

And if you speak with media agencies (agencies that purchase on behalf of clients, advertising space TV), just “boycott” not pronounce after a fine stinging received two years ago for a boycott action against a competitor from the market. At least, they will never agree to an organized action, which can be assimilated to a “boycott”.

b. The call addressed to no longer support the brands on “mud-TV”.
 Such an appeal was addressed to the Frontline Club on January 24 and quickly mastered by many protesters, and the site dedicated to the advertising industry IQads.ro.

Such calls targeting responsibility that companies have to society and say the authors, not found in the fact that putting in the forefront the interests of business support through advertising misinformation and abuse on television, the more they It affects the entire society, as with ordinances on justice, not mere political debate.

Long after developing Romanian broadcaster OTV, major advertising clients have been reluctant as they could post Dan Diaconescu, the desire not to associate with that type of content. Towards the end of the last decade, just when audiences attracted by Elodia phenomenon could not be avoided, and the station had not yet colossal political skidding recent years, customers have started to show advertising on this channel.

become “synonymous with blackmail press”. Meanwhile, customers were crowded on OTV, as long as there was, and the way back was not putty as are agencies that say they have clients willing to listen “discussions alternatives when they are violated principles of business – they delivered, but “not at any cost ‘” (see link above).

Calls such as those mentioned were, this time, results. Many customers withdrew their advertising from the two posts. But under what conditions?

HotNews.ro talked to several representatives of some media agencies and clients, related to the current situation. They do not want their brands or companies appearing in the current public debate and agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.

Historically, the standout one case brand that has publicly announced that withdrew advertising from a TV station – if Avon Direct-Access (Antena 1) in 2013. Otherwise, preferred brands, at best, to declare that in a moment or another not campaigning on a position slippage.

According to these representatives of agencies / clients, many brands have opted to retire from Antena 3 TV and Romania in terms of image risks associated with current public debate. Some have made it probably the long term: a company marketing boss said he had withdrawn the advertisement of a job “to rinse waters”. What this means? It is not clear, he said, considering that the other post ad is not running “a year, probably” because that TV content.

Other representatives said that, while some companies have completely withdrawn advertising, others preferred only and a substantially reduce or give up prime-time, remaining in the bars during the day when “dominated the news” even little debate, where most records slippages. And it is expected that after the situation will settle down, at least part of the campaign to return, although the situation related precautions hot now.

  • “The withdrawal is a decision of PR agencies in the short term”; “We do not want to be associated with what is now on TV, too much” – said explanations separately by two of representatives of advertising buyers who spoke with HotNews.ro.

II. The National Audiovisual Council

CNA has always been one of the targets of protests not just because it is perceived as a neutral arbiter of broadcasting, but as a forum that does not fulfill its duties and, more than that protects deviations from Antena 3 TV and Romania.

The requests to CNA by protesters were as diverse as – from “prohibit” the two channels to make their simply, work.

  • The institution comprises 11 members. By law, they must be neutral and responsible only to the public interest. But they are all political appointees – confirmed as proposed by Parliament and parliamentary groups, government, presidential – and most of them operating under interests of those who appointed them.
  • The forum is led currently by a defendant, Laura Georgescu, but the sessions are led, in turn, each member of the party, which sets the agenda of that meeting.

After the protests, the forum was animated sharply after an initial missed several sessions 2017 and 2016 after a year in which his work was largely blockedStratagems described by HotNews.ro 2013 are still used even were enriched.

In recent weeks intense activity most recently scheduled three sessions per week CNA fines, including Romania TV station, resumed talks to amend the Broadcasting Code, the new provisions related to the protection of minors, combating discrimination and human dignity. But by majority vote either blocked or delayed harsh sanctions or penalties chose “usurele” the seriousness of the facts analyzed. Moreover, its members have gone all in all this time, to the extent that:

The situation is such that the representative of Romania TV CNA does not even shows for several weeks at forum meetings broadcasting.

According to the Broadcasting Law, CNA members can be dismissed only under extraordinary circumstances, not for how they operate:

  • law are dismissed if they become incompatible, belong to parties or political structures, are in conflict of interest
  • They are dismissed by parliament if they can not exercise the function for more than six months, or permanently if convicted.

In these circumstances, what can and can not do audiovisual forum under the law?

a. What the CAN cannot do:

– To “ban” certain positions. CNA can prosecute, withdraw licenses or license halve period, may refuse to renew a license, but not “ban” a television. Even Romania TV reacted recently to the waves of criticism by invoking the provisions of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression, prohibit censorship and suppression of publications – omitting, however, Article which stipulates that “freedom of expression shall not be prejudicial to the dignity, honor, privacy of person, and the right to own image. ”

– To issue laws or amend the legislation. CNA has no right of legislative initiative. Its members can only propose lawmakers to promote legislative changes. Where can they make changes is broadcasting code, namely the set of rules used to implement the Broadcasting Act.

b. What it could do if it wanted: 

– Firstly, to sanction. Given that, according to the legislation, sanctions should be increased if a broadcaster deviations continue, can lead to repeated disruption of emissions and, ultimately, to halving the period of license. It happened in 2012 with OTV, which only last minute managed to prevent the court closing station after the license was repeated CNA halved because of political advertising.

  • *License Antena 3 was extended to nine years in 2014. Romania has licensed TV 2011, in which case it would be automatically required to request extension of the license, if it had halved now.

– Decide to withdraw the audiovisual license, when the situation requires. The law provides that either a series of cases “technical” concerning opinions, etc. emission maintaining or committing repeated the following crimes: public incitement to national hatred, racial or religious; Explicit inciting public violence; incitement to actions aimed dissolution of state authority; incitement to terrorist action. Note that CNA member Valentin Jucan already invoked an attempt to “subversion of state authorities” in the case of records with Ghita from Romania TV.

– MPs propose to initiate bills. On the other hand, it is obliged to implement changes to the law – if it passes in Parliament, for example, initiatives aimed at improving activity and limit political partisanship CNA, CNA would be forced to apply.

– When you make changes to the Broadcasting Code, they actually cover “loopholes” used until now to avoid harsh sanctions in cases of “sensitive”.

III.
 The relationship with cable operators

Among the demands made by protesters in the early demonstrations that was counted including cable operators not to take Romania TV and Antena 3. This is not legally possible. According to the “must carry” obligations stipulated in the Broadcasting Act, operators are obliged to retransmit all the items to be declared free reception and retransmission does not condition.

If you want to offer customers a large number of positions, operators are obliged basically to retransmit channels including a few dozen viewers. And the list of stations “must carry” Romania Antena 3 TV and occupy 3rd and 4th!

BUT, in this matter there are some precedents. Five years ago, a draft law submitted to Parliament for amendment of the Broadcasting Law, there was no time for a provision on the abolition of the principle must carry. It was quickly withdrawn, but the topic was discussed intensely over and a period at CNA, where they raised several variants. Among them, the option as “must carry” be maintained within certain limits, and the inclusion of posts to be conditioned by history “clean” at CNA. It has not reached any conclusion but until that audiovisual forum “changed the guard” by the arrival of new members, including the president Laura Georgescu, and the departure of others.

Since then, in the context of escalation of the conflict between Intact and RCS & RDS and the fact that television, hit by the economic crisis, in general rejected the idea of ​​such a risk, the issue was buried. He reappeared after strictly informal Pro TV has waived status post free relay (cable companies to retransmit stations pay for TV Pro).

  • After the initiative of Pro TV, and Intact took into account a possible waiver status “must carry” for its televisions, but without reaching a conclusion. Interestingly, during the same period, another news post would be tried in HotNews.ro information, discuss the formation of a “pole” for informational stations, including TV Romania, which come out “package” the must-carry, without the idea to fruition.

As there were such discussions in 2011-2012, there may be again, if anyone in Parliament or CNA has the initiative to hold consultations on the issue.

Translation of the original article on the portal HotNews.ro

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