The Hardest Working Bureaucrats in Romania

A few weeks ago on a Saturday I went to the main downtown post office here in Cluj, which ironically bills itself as being the number one post office in town, and discovered that there was only a single, highly frustrated worker on duty. She had her hands full and was quite grumpy and had to be persuaded to get her keyring out and open up an ancillary office in order to get a document.

The “customer service experience”, to say the least, was quite poor. Anyone living or working here rapidly finds out that most Romanian government services are housed in dilapidated old buildings and move at a snail’s pace, the workers often surly and uncooperative.

watching every hyphen and punctuation mark!
watching every hyphen and punctuation mark!

But there is one Romanian bureaucracy that works at lightning speed, not only compiling and analyzing vast amounts of data in a quick and efficient manner but also frequently updating their website with the latest information. I’m referring to the Consiliul National al Audiovizualului (say that three times fast!), known by their initials CNA.

Similar to America’s FCC, the CNA regulates and licenses all television and radio broadcasts. However, the FCC is far more restricted in its powers and scope, only having authority over broadcasts using the “public’s airwaves”, which is why any cable-only television channel (such as HBO, etc) or satellite-only (such as Sirius radio) can contain nudity and swearing. The CNA, on the other hand, not only has jurisdiction over satellite and cable channels but also monitors and can regulate (at least theoretically) all electronic media, including online news sites and blogs.

The CNA also had a broad mandate that includes enforcing the protection of Romanian “culture and language” as well as the protection of the “culture and language” of official minority languages, not to mention preventing “injurious speech” again individuals and enforcing an extremely rigid “balance of opinions” on all broadcasts, something the American FCC hasn’t done in years.

The CNA is also quick to hand out enormous fines for any broadcasters who violate any of these rules. According to their website, there were 692 sanctions issued in 2013 and a whopping 934 sanctions in 2012. Quite often these fines are substantial, such as the two handed out on Monday (Jan 13), Antena 3 being hit for 20000 lei (roughly 4500 euros) for making accusations against someone and using “injurious” language, while B1TV was fine 10000 lei (roughly 2200 euros) for two instances of using language that was deemed “discriminatory” against someone’s race, religion, nationality, sex, sexual orientation or ethnicity. Whew!

These violations are usually described in great detail with copious legal text and are coupled with a compulsory message to be broadcast by the offender, listing the details of their offense. A perfect example is Decision number 335 of 2013, wherein the CNA found that Antena 3 was running an advertisement for their children’s charity (called the “Always Close” Foundation) that “affected the physical, mental or moral development of children” without a warning ahead of time that the broadcast was not suitable for viewing by children.

How could a brief publicity spot for a children’s charity be “unsuitable” for children? From the CNA:

Pe fundalul sonor al piesei „Won’t be the same”, interpretată de Billy the Kid, se văd nişte imagini în care un personaj, purtând o mantie neagră cu glugă şi având în mână o coasă, este prezent în diferite etape de dezvoltare ale unor copii: leagănă un prunc, deschide braţele pentru a prinde un băieţel care învaţă să meargă, se joacă cu un băieţel în parc, pe o bancă, împinge leagănul în care se află o fetiţă şi învaţă un băieţel să meargă pe bicicletă. Mai apoi, personajul cernit şi copiii aflaţi la locul de joacă îşi iau rămas-bun, îndepărtându-se, iar copiii se întorc la joacă. Pe ecran au fost derulate următoarele mesaje: 2 euro/sms 848; Fundaţia Mereu aproape; Sărbători fericite!”

In other words a “Grim Reaper” figure complete with black hood and scythe was shown appearing in children’s lives at various periods, starting with a baby and then “watching over” children as they played at various things, including riding a bicycle. Then at the end of the spot, the kids wave “goodbye” to the Grim Reaper and viewers were encouraged to send an SMS message and thus donate to the charity, finishing with a message of “Happy Holidays!”.

This scary (and frankly creepy) use of the Grim Reaper figure (which you can see here on YouTube) was deemed officially unsuitable for children and Antena 3 was forced to broadcast the CNA’s text about the violation “at least three times” between the hours of 6pm and 10pm within 24 hours of the CNA’s decision.

And these sanctions against broadcasters roll in week after week, updated quickly on the CNA’s website. The “mea culpa” texts appear on most television station regularly, although I have no idea if the viewers at home really care too much. The CNA has a session scheduled for today at 10am and has another long list of issues to decide, including potential sanctions against three television stations and four radio stations, one of which is the state-run Radio Romania Actualitati (news).

The CNA also takes their mission to protect the Romanian language quite seriously. In October 2012 they hired a team to analyze 12 television stations and 2 radio stations for their use of Romanian. You can see the report on B1TV here (PDF) and see such detailed analysis as this:

Original: “minus 2 grade azi dimineață la Miercurea Ciuc”

Correction: “minus 2 grade azi-dimineață la Miercurea-Ciuc”

Yep, that’s right. They missed the hyphen mark in Miercurea-Ciuc (the city’s official name in Romanian) as well as in “azi-dimineata” because it is being used as an adverb. Now that’s attention to detail!

A presenter on B1TV also screwed up by saying “optisprezece” (18) instead of the correct “optsprezece”, which makes me feel better on a personal level because lazy numbers were one of my main stumbling blocks back in the days when I was learning to speak Romanian. Hey, if a native speaker on a news broadcast can’t get it right, I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of :)

According to my research, the CNA was originally organized and financed via PHARE money but has been on its own (i.e. financed entirely by the Romanian government) since 2008, although it continues to have a number of key partners, including journalism organizations in Romania and across Europe.

With a quick turn around, no hesitation in applying hefty fines, transparent meetings of its board and rapid updating on its website, I think it’s very clear that the CNA is the home of the Hardest Working Bureaucrats in Romania!

7 thoughts on “The Hardest Working Bureaucrats in Romania

  1. This week I received a parcel from Romania, the second actually. A few years ago I sent a letter to a flat address. The letter was stolen. My guess is someone in the complex saw the return address USA and took it. Much to my surprise the letter was delivered to a box shared by everyone in the complex. Now that sucks.


  2. Yes, I totally agree the Cluj main post office sucks. Isn’t it high time they gave this place a paint job, a make over job…it looks so dreary! And the service…aaaah, don’t even get me started on the service.


  3. Eu am facut o sesizare acum 1 luna la CNA pe motiv ca in data de 11 decembrie pe postul antena2 in cadrul emisiunii Agentul VIP intre ora 13:30 si 15:00 a aparut o imagine cu o blonda dezbracata complet care avea mana stanga la vagin si dreapta pe san. Desi imaginea avea o banda neagra pe sani si un patrat pe vagin, la ora 13:30 sa dea imagini deastea? sunt prosti aia de la antena 2? le strica cresterea la copii, devoltarea morala si sentimentala. Si CNA mi-a zis ca va cere si parerea celor de la antena2 despre acest caz, am sa astept pina in februarie si trimit plangerea si la ministrul culturii. CNA sa stiti ca doarme. La tv ruleaza programe de control mental si indobitocire si CNA face jocu.

    CNA is corupted !


  4. Sam,

    Al though I appreciate your blog posts, you should have addressed a totally different issue here.

    Just read the article below

    ”Laura Georgescu, acuzata ca transforma institutia in CONSILIUL NATIONAL al ANTENELOR. Doi membri CNA ii cer DEMISIA”

    Doi membri ai Consiliului National al Audiovizualului (CNA), Narcisa Iorga si Valentin Jucan, ii cer demisia presedintelui CNA, Laura Georgescu, sustinand ca aceasta “transforma CNA in Consiliul National al Antenelor”, conform unui comunicat remis redactiei.

    “Presedintele CNA, Laura Georgescu, a adus prejudicii majore de credibilitate autoritatii pe care o conduce de un an incoace. Ii cerem demisia pana luni, zi in care a convocat o sedinta extraordinara a CNA, motivand public ca ‘nu are nicio problema sa introduca cu celeritate pe ordinea de zi dosarul Antena 2”, se arata in comunicat.

    Motivatiile cererii demisiei

    In conferinta pe care a sustinut-o astazi, 13 decembrie, in nume personal, presedintele Laura Georgescu a demonstrat public ca are carente in cunoasterea legislatiei din domeniul audiovizualului;

    A afirmat ca postul de televiziune Antena 3 poate face publice mesajele primite de la telespectatori, indiferent de continutul acestora, ceea ce contravine legislatiei audiovizuale, care responsabilizeaza radiodifuzorul pentru continutul pe care il difuzeaza;

    A refuzat sa includa in Codul etic al membrilor CNA criteriul integritatii cu referire la incompatibilitati si conflicte de interese, cu toate ca acest principiu era agreat de ONG-urile de media din Romania, care au fost consultate, dar ignorate. A preferat o varianta agreata de sase membri CNA, dintre care doi sunt declarati de catre ANI ca aflandu-se in stare de incompatibilitate, respectiv conflict de interese;
    A incalcat art. 3 din Codul etic al membrilor CNA, pe care domnia sa insasi l-a propus si votat, referitor la impartialitatea fata de radiodifuzori. A tolerat incalcari ale aceluiasi cod si de catre alti doi membri ai CNA, care activeaza politic in emisiuni de televiziune, in contradictie cu art. 2 al Codului etic;

    In nume personal, a acordat miercuri, 11 decembrie, premii de excelenta uzurpand autoritatea Consiliului National al Audiovizualului. Aceste premii nu reprezinta decizia CNA, au fost acordate pe criterii lipsite de transparenta si fara consultarea tuturor membrilor Consiliului;

    A legitimat cel mai politizat concurs organizat de CNA in ultimii cinci ani pentru acordarea licentelor audiovizuale pentru programe de radiodifuziune. Am semnalat deja acest lucru la momentul respectiv, printr-o scrisoare deschisa;

    A modificat Codul audiovizualului pe drumul de la CNA la Monitorul Oficial, favorizand indeosebi un radiodifuzor prin nepublicarea unui articol care fusese adoptat de plenul CNA.

    “Adaugand la toate acestea atitudinea publica de astazi a presedintelui Laura Georgescu, consideram ca autoritatea Consiliului National al Audiovizualului este grav afectata. Presedintele

    CNA a acceptat ca luni sa fie organizata o sedinta extraordinara pentru a include pe ordinea de zi subiectul Antena 2, ceea ce inseamna ca raspunde unor presiuni inadmisibile, indiferent de unde ar veni acestea. Ne opunem transformarii CNA in Consiliul National al Antenelor si cerem demisia presedintelui Laura Georgescu, pentru a pune capat acestei intamplari nefericite din istoria CNA”, se incheie motivatia remisa redactiei.


    Laura Georgescu a dat citire unei reclamatii primite din partea unei telespectatoare, in cadrul unei emisiuni de la Antena 1, care numea postul Antena 3 “spalator de creiere”.

    In replica, Mihai Gadea, directorul postului Antena 3, si Mircea Badea, realizatorul emisiunii “In gura presei”, i-au cerut demisia sefei CNA, in cadrul unei editii Sinteza zilei (Antena 3), de miercuri.

    In urma acestui scandal mediatic, presedintele CNA, Laura Georgescu, a afirmat vineri, in cadrul unei conferinte de presa ca CNA reprezinta vocea telespectatorilor si a radioascultatorilor, iar demersurile sale in calitate de sef al institutiei sunt menite sa apere interesul public.

    “In 24 ianuarie anul acesta demaram petitia ‘Interesul public mai presus de gustul publicului’. Pledam atunci pentru semnarea petitiei de catre cei care doresc schimbarea genului de emisiuni si de stiri. Conform articolului 10 din Legea audiovizualului, Consiliul e garantul interesului public in domeniul comunicarii audiovizuale. CNA este vocea telespectatorilor si a radioascultatorilor. In secunda in care vorbim de un astfel de numar mare de sesizari, aceste hartii reprezinta oameni. In spatele lor sunt fiinte. Ele se inscriu in garantul interesului public”.

    CNA a respins, pe 10 decembrie, solicitarea societăţii Antena TV Group de transformare a televiziunii Antena 2 în Antena Stars, unii membri ai Consiliului – Narcisa Iorga şi Laura Georgescu – precizând că postul se va tabloidiza prin emisiunile unor prezentatori ca Bianca Drăguşanu în noua grilă a canalului. Societatea Antena TV Group SA solicitase CNA modificarea denumirii Antena 2 în Antena Stars, modificarea siglei şi a grilei de programe a televiziunii.
    “Împotriva” solicitării Antena TV Group au votat Laura Georgescu, Lorand Turos, Valentin Jucan, Narcisa Iorga, Monica Gubernat, Christian Mititelu şi Cristina Trepcea, în timp ce “pentru” aprobarea solicitării societăţii au votat Răsvan Popescu şi Radu Călin Cristea.

    În aceeaşi conferinţă, Laura Georgescu a spus că va introduce cu celeritate pe ordinea de zi a şedinţei CNA dosarul prin care Antena TV Group solicită transformarea Antena 2 în Antena Stars, însă acest lucru se va întâmpla numai după ce dosarul va fi completat de radiodifuzor cu toate documentele prevăzute de legislaţia audiovizualului. Totodată, Laura Georgescu a precizat că dosarul nu este complet (în momentul desfăşurării conferinţei de presă, n.r.).

    Pe de altă parte, Laura Georgescu nu a anunţat încă ordinea de zi a următoarei şedinţe publice a CNA, despre care a afirmat în conferinţa de presă că ar urma să aibă loc luni.
    Până la ora difuzării acestei ştiri, Laura Georgescu nu a putut fi contactată pentru a exprima un punct de vedere în legătură cu solicitarea Narcisei Iorga şi a lui Valentin Jucan.


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