CNN Affiliate, Newsweek Tagged In Romanian Play-For-Play Scheme
Romania’s media market is engulfed in a pay-for-play political scandal which includes newsrooms using the brand names of CNN and Newsweek, Matei Rosca reported for The Daily Beast.
Photo Insert: Newsweek, which was formerly owned by The Daily Beast’s parent company, got €3,000 per month from the same company, the leaks alleged.
CNN’s Romanian affiliate, Antena 3 CNN, has a TV broadcasting license which bans it from taking money from political parties outside of election campaign periods. Yet, that is exactly what the biggest names in Romanian news media have been doing through their websites, which are unregulated.
The two main political parties in Romania, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the National Liberal Party (PNL), which have joined forces in government, have ramped up spending on “press and propaganda” to the tune of around $40 million in 2022, twice as much as they spent in 2021, according to an analysis from the local edition of the US government-backed Radio Free Europe (RFE).
Independent investigative journalists at Recorder.ro meanwhile published confidential contracts between political parties and intermediary firms which distributed millions of dollars of state subsidies to the news media.
Newsweek, which was formerly owned by The Daily Beast’s parent company, got €3,000 per month from the same company, the leaks alleged.
Recorder.ro said that was “suggestive of a protection tax or loyalty fee,” something that the media organizations deny. The Romanian edition of Newsweek was launched in 2018 via a franchise agreement of undisclosed value, with local company News International SA.
From the other top party, the PNL, Newsweek had received €5,000 per month between January and July 2021, and also between October and December, according to data obtained by RFE, which cited a contract ending in April 2022 for Newsweek.
Over the same period, the PNL paid Antena 3 CNN the better part of €75,000 per month, the data shows. This contract was bundled with a smaller local news website, DC News, according to the report.
A PNL spokeswoman confirmed the party had supplied RFE with this information. Between April and September 2021, Antena 3 CNN received monthly payments of €83,000 from the arms-length company working with the PSD, according to the data leaked to Recorder.ro.