Can the public find out who owns the media through free access to the essential information required?
Under the strict definition of what constitutes transparency of media ownership, as stated above, it is not possible to find out who owns the print, online or broadcast media in Romania. However, it may be possible identify owners using corporate law if both significant time and money is invested.
Only the broadcast media are covered by any media-specific law. The Audiovisual Law no.504 requires disclosure of all the information needed to identify ownership of the media in Romania apart from beneficial ownership. However, the threshold for reporting indirect interest, at 20% is too high to provide proper transparency. Furthermore, in practice, obtaining information on those with indirect control / significant interest is time-consuming and laborious if the individual is not a public official. Indirect ownership information can be established easily for public officials as they have to make a declaration of assets and their media ownership interests can be cross-checked with that. For anyone who is not a public official, a time-consuming, step-by-step process of checking and cross-referencing a large number of records is necessary to identify those with an indirect control/significant interest.
All media which are registered companies are subject to company law. The Law 31/1990 on Trading Companies requires disclosure of all the necessary information to establish ownership but it has to be reported to various agencies, depending on the type of company. In theory the process of ascertaining who the natural persons are behind a company that owns another company that owns a media outlet is possible through a step-by-step process involving requests for information from the various agencies for each of the companies but it is time-consuming. In addition, the charges for accessing the information are prohibitive: access to complete company information held by the Trade Register costs a minimum of 300 lei (c. €70) per annum and access to the relevant section of the Official Journal costs a minimum of 500 lei (€110) (annually).
DRAFT – FOR PUBLIC CONSULTATION: This research has been carried out by national experts and is open for consultation. Please let us know if you have any suggestions, or if you spot any errors or omissions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.