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News 25 Jan 13

Romania's Troubled TV to Sack Fifth of Staff

Romania’s financially stricken public braodcaster is to sack about 700 employees, about 20 per cent of its staff, in order to reduce costs.

Marian Chiriac

Romania's cash-strapped public television, TVR, is to cut 698 jobs, or 20 per cent of its workforce, starting from next month, to help the company cut costs and re-balance it is finances. 

“We have organized a clear and balanced professional selection procedure to find out which jobs should be cut. Our main aim is to reorganize TVR’s general activity and reduce costs as much as possible,” the management said.

The selection system includes writing a job description and passing a written test and an interview. However, some critical commentators say the selection is less of a genuine restructuring process than a simple combing-out process.

In a related development, the government recently decided to help TVR deal with its debt of 65 million euro by re-scheduling its fiscal payments over the next seven years.

The company remains in dire straits financially and recently closed two of its TV channels, TVR Info and TVR Cultural.

In recent months, TVR came under fire from political parties and from the media for its ongoing problems and poor financial state.

Last May, the Tax Administration froze the accounts of TVR because of its unpaid debts, putting the broadcaster at risk of having to suspend activity.

Reforming Romanian public television is a long and painful process. Constant political pressure, excessive staffing levels, poor or unbalanced political shows and outdated equipment are some of the many problems affecting the broadcaster, reports say.

Last June, parliament approved the new board for TVR, composed of representatives from all political parties, apart from the opposition Democrat Liberal Party, PDL.  The 13-member board includes representatives nominated by the government and the President.

Claudiu Saftoiu, a journalist and former chief of the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service, became the new boss of public television.

Around 70 per cent of the TVR’s revenue comes from publicity, transmission fees and TV licenses paid for by users. The rest of the money comes from the state budget, which makes it dependent on the generosity of the ruling parties.

TVR started in 1965 and now includes six national channels and five TV stations that broadcast at a regional level.

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