(PRAGUE - January 14, 2019) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) relaunched its Romanian Service on January 14 at 8:00am local time in Bucharest, after closing its doors in the country a decade ago.
The service, known locally as Radio Europa Liberă, will for now operate exclusively on digital platforms, an update of its storied broadcast days.
According to independent monitors, including Reporters Without Borders, media freedom has steadily declined in Romania in recent years. With many outlets falling under the control of government or local oligarchs, editorial independence and balanced information have become harder to access for many Romanians, and disinformation about western institutions and democratic practices has become widespread.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis welcomed Radio Europa Liberă's return as “good news,” and declared in a statement that “A free Romania cannot be imagined in a free Europe without …the free press.”
Managed by award-winning journalist Sabina Fati, the service had already attracted upwards of 18,000 followers on social networks even before its website went live.
RFE/RL previously served countries across Eastern Europe prior to their joining the European Union and NATO. Broadcasting to Romania ended in 2008. A relaunch of its service to Bulgaria, which it closed in 2004, is planned for later this month.
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to over 34 million people in 25 languages and 21 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed over 2.6 billion times on Facebook and YouTube in FY2018. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.