Communications media in Romania
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Reporters Without Borders ranks Romania 58th in its Worldwide Press Freedom Index, the same level as Poland and Hong-Kong. The public television company Televiziunea Română and the public radio Societatea Română de Radiodifuziune cover all the country and have also international programs. The state also owns a public news agency ROMPRES. The private media is grouped in media companies such as Intact Media Group, Media Pro, Realitatea-Caţavencu, Ringier, SBS Broadcasting Group, Centrul Naţional Media and other smaller independent companies. Cable television is widely available in almost all localities, and some have even adopted Digital television. It offers besides the national channels a great number of international and specialized channels. FM stations cover most cities and most of them belong to national radio networks. Overall readership of most newspapers is slowly declining due to increasing competition from television and the Internet. Tabloids and sport newspapers are among the most read national newspapers. In every large city there is at least one local newspaper, which usually covers the rest of the county. An Audit Bureau of Circulations was established in 1998 and today represents a large number of publications.
Romania has one of the most dynamic media markets in southeastern Europe. TV is the medium of choice for most Romanians. State-owned TVR and the private stations Pro TV and Antena 1 command the lion's share of viewing, however there is a large number of smaller, private stations, some of them part of local networks. The state broadcaster, TVR, operates a second national network, TVR 2, and a pan-European satellite channel. Pay TV channels have a smaller but significant audience.
The first private radio stations appeared in 1990; there are now more than 100 of them. State-run Radio Romania operates four national networks and regional and local stations. BBC World Service is available on 88 FM in the capital, and is relayed in Timişoara (93.9), Sibiu (88.4) and Constanta (96.9).
Most households in Bucharest have cable TV. There are hundreds of cable distributors offering access to Romanian, European and other stations.
Romania's newspaper market thrived after the 1989 revolution, but many newspapers subsequently closed because of rising costs.
The 1991 constitution upholds freedom of expression, but prohibits "defamation of the country".
In 2007 the media rights body Reporters Without Borders praised reforms to the criminal code; journalists can no longer be jailed on defamation charges.
According to europaworld.com, in 2004 there were:
- radio users: 5,369,000
- television users: 5,822,000
- telephones (main lines in use): 4,390,800 (2005)
- mobile cellular phones (subscribers): 22,000,000 (2008)
- personal computers: 2,450,000
- internet users: 4,500,000
- book production (inclusively pamphlets): 13,288,000 titles and 9,288,000 copies
- daily newspapers: 84
- other periodicals: 2,036
In November 2008, the number of registered .ro domains was over 340,000, of which 315,000 were active. This represents an increase of 50% in a single year.
Romania has rapidly improving domestic and international services, especially in wireless telephony. The domestic network offers good, modern services in urban areas; 98% of telephone network is automatic while 71% is digitized; trunk network is mostly fiber-optic cable and radio relay; about 80% of exchange capacity is digital. Roughly 3,300 villages have outdated or no service.
International service data:
- satellite country code: 40;
- satellite earth station: 10 (Intelsat 4);
- digital, international, direct-dial exchanges operate in Bucharest.
The combined (fixed+mobile) telephone penetration rate is 108.3%.
See also Romania Telephone Area Codes.
There are 4,106,000 main lines in use (June 2007). Romtelecom is the dominant fixed line provider (around 80% of the market share) and the only POTS provider. Other providers are RCS&RDS and UPC Romania.
There were 19,500,000 SIM cards active in the first half of 2007. There are three GSM cellular networks (Orange, Vodafone and Cosmote) covering more than 85% of the territory (about 98% of the population), one UMTS only (Digi.Mobil) as well as two CDMA networks (Zapp and Romtelecom). Three networks, meaning Vodafone, Orange and Digi.Mobil also provide UMTS (3G) services, and soon Zapp will follow, the network being under testing at the moment. Mobile telephony had an 108% penetration rate in March 2008. See list of mobile network operators for market share data.
Radio sets: 12.1 million (2005)
Television broadcast stations: 130 (plus about 400 low-power repeaters) (1997)
Television sets: 11.35 million (2005)
Romanian television is dominated by a small number of corporations, owning multiple TV channels as well as radio stations, newspapers and media agencies. Their television business is structured around a flagship channel and a number of smaller specialized, niche channels. The biggest corporations of this kind are:
- Intact Media Group (with Antena 1-Antena 5),
- Central European Media Enterprises (with Pro TV, Acasă, Pro Cinema, Pro TV Internaţional and Sport.ro)
- Realitatea-Catavencu (with Realitatea TV, Romantica and The Money Channel)
- Centrul Naţional Media (with Naţional TV, N24 and Favorit TV)
- SBS Broadcasting Group (with Prima TV and Kiss TV).
Additionally, there is a public television service operated by Televiziunea Română with four channels (TVR 1, TVR 2, TVR Cultural and TVR i) and there are many localized or franchised international channels (such as HBO, MTV, Cinemax, AXN, Cartoon Network). Furthermore, there are a few independent and local broadcasters.
Two private stations, Pro TV and Antena 1, are market leaders, sharing about 32% of the market, with public television in the third place. A feature of Romanian Television after 2000 was the boom of specialized channels - such as soap opera and telenovela channels (Acasă TV, Romantica, Antena 4 - Euforia lifestyle TV), sport channels (such as Sport.ro and Telesport), talk channels (Antena 2) news channels (Realitatea TV, Antena 3 and N24), different movie genres or documentary types, and even specializing on different musical styles (UTV Romania and MTV being geared toward club, dance and hip-hop music, whereas Favorit TV and Etno TV towards folklore, and Taraf TV towards manele). Teleshopping channels, lifestyle and weather channels, and special channels dedicated for display in public areas (such as waiting areas, airports, train stations, banks, supermarkets) additionally exist.
Television broadcasts and cable television, frequency allocations, content monitoring and license allocation are done by the National Audiovisual Council (Consiliul Naţional al Audiovizualului (CNA)).
Romania has very high penetration rates for cable television in Europe, with over 79% of all households watching television through a CATV network in 2007. The market is extremely dynamic, and dominated by two giant companies - Romanian based RCS&RDS and United States based UPC-Astral. Both additionally offer IP telephony over coaxial cable and Internet services. The national CATV network is being improved, and most households are being migrated towards digital cable solutions. Digital DTH satellite service is available throughout the country, and accounts for an additional 10-15% of the market, with only about 5% being attributed to terrestrial analogue television. Digital satellite DTH is provided by a number of companies. Most TV channels only broadcast via cable.
Broadcast television is very limited because of the high penetration of cable, only TVR 1, TVR 2, Antena 1 and Pro TV are available as analogue broadcasts. In some areas, only TVR 1 is available, and in others, there is no broadcast signal while there are cable operators. Furthermore, although the transmission systems are still functional, receiving aerials in many places have long since been dismantled or are unmaintained. Although tests are being performed in Bucharest it is possible that Romania will not migrate to digital terrestrial systems, but completely discontinue this service, and sell the available spectrum for other purposes, since the said investments provide limited appeal. It is expected that by 2010, only 5% of the population will watch television via broadcast, making it possible to completely switch off the network.
The reasons for the appeal for cable started in the early 1990s. After the fall of the communist regime, in 1989, there were only two state owned TV channels available (see TVR), one only being available in about 20% of the country. Private TV channels were slow to appear, because of lack of experience and high start-up costs (most startups were radio stations or newspapers). Thus, for the first three years, over the air, one would get one or two state channels and one or two local, amateurish private channels, broadcasting only a few hours a day. In this environment, cable TV companies appeared and thrived, providing 15-20 foreign channels for a very low price (at the time 2 USD or less), some with Romanian translation, offering high quality news, entertainment and especially movies or cartoons (one of the ways cable companies advertised was the availability of a cartoon channel, Cartoon Network, appealing to children, which in turn would appeal to their parents). The first two companies to provide CATV were Multicanal in Bucharest and Timiş Cablu in Timişoara, both out of business today. Many small, startup firms gradually grew, and coverage increased (coverage wars were frequent in the early period, with many cable boxes smashed, and new cable networks offering "half off for twice the channels" and immediately wiring the building for any willing persons). However, this period soon ended, with consolidation around 1995-1996. Some large companies emerged: Kappa and RCS in Bucharest, Astral in Cluj, UPC in Timişoara, TourImex in Râmnicu Vâlcea. This consolidation came with gentlemen agreements over areas of control and pricing, with claims of monopoly abounding. This process of consolidation was completed around 2005-2006, when only two big suppliers of cable remained: UPC-Astral and RDS. Internet over coaxial cable has been available since around 2000, and IP telephony (over the CATV infrastructure) since the deregulation of the market in 2003. Currently, cable TV is available in most of the country, including most rural areas (where roughly 40% of the population lives). Satellite digital TV appeared in 2004, providing coverage for the rest of the country, with both RCS&RDS and UPC-Astral having a stake in these companies. IPTV (over DSL) is also planned by Romtelecom through its TV service (Dolce), after offering Satellite digital DTH TV. However, IPTV will not be much of a competition, since the other two big ISPs are also the two biggest CATV providers.
Cable TV is very cheap for all standards, the standard/basic service, offering about 50 channels, is around 20-30 RON/month including VAT (about 7-10 €), with the most expensive service, offering 10-15 channels more, including some pay-per-view such as HBO or Cinemax, costing no more than 60-70 RON/month (around 20-23 €).
Romania uses PAL B/G for analogue cable and broadcast television, but see above.
Note: data available for 2004 (2005) from International Telecommunication Union through europaworld.com
- Radio users: 5,369,000
- Television users: 5,822,000
- Telephones: 4,390,800 main lines in use (2005)
- Mobile cellular telephones: 22,800,000 (2008)
- Internet users: 4,500,000
- Personal computers: 2,450,000
- Book production (incl. pamphlets): 13,288 titles & 9,288,000 copies
- Daily newspapers: 84
- Other periodicals: 2,036
- Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006
- "Romania". The Europa World Year Book. 2 (48 ed.). London and New York: Routledge. 2007. pp. 3734–3759.
- (Romanian) Hotnews, Romania are 19,5 milioane de utilizatori ai serviciilor de telefonie mobila (Romania has 19.5 millions mobile telephony users), October 10, 2007
- Rata de penetrare a telefoniei mobile, 108% - Business Standard
- (Romanian) Ziarul Financiar, Romania are cea mai mare rata de penetrare a televiziunii prin cablu din Balcani (Romania has the highest penetration rates of cable TV in the Balkans)