Recorder, a Romanian NGO recently published an investigation about how some political parties manage to hide the (indirect) funding of media outlets using money provided by the state (source, automatically generated subtitles work very well for English).
The investigation shows:
- by law, the political parties receive several million euros from the state to fund their activity
- an essential fraction of this money goes to some companies, which buy various services from virtually all important TV stations or websites. This is done because the political parties are not allowed to directly buy media services outside of the political campaigns (and other restrictions such as clearly displaying that a show is publicity or political debate)
- the details of the contracts between the political parties and the companies are not disclosed
- although the law requires any entity to specify how public money is spent, the main political party (the social democrats) refused to offer such details
Shortly put, some political parties in Romania are de facto spending public money for media services, propaganda, etc. without being to tell how that money is spent.
As a consequence, many shows including politicians are not including important questions are very important changes (e.g. national security, education law changes) receive next-to-nothing coverage in most media channels.
I am wondering if this is also happening within other EU countries or not. My first thought was Hungary. I have found multiple articles about this, but none is concerned with how media channels are being influenced (is it transparent for someone interested in this or it is indirectly visible by watching their content?).
As side note, the European Commission has just adopted the European Media Freedom Act.