Romania: TV stations fined for disrespecting those who died in Coletiv nightclub fire1

Eugen Cojocariu
On 3 November 2015, the National Audiovisual Council (Consiliul Naţional al Audiovizualului, CNA) issued the Recommendation no. 4/2015, regarding the tragic night fire in the Colectiv Club in Bucharest on 30 October 2015, which resulted in 60 dead and over 150 injured. The death toll refers to the time of writing this article (29 November 2015).

The majority of the victims of the Colectiv Club were young people attending a rock concert. The reaction of the authorities and the emergency responders to the tragic accident triggered massive social protests, which ended with the resignation of the Prime Minister.

In the recommendation, CNA requested the TV and radio stations to treat the funeral of the victims with the utmost responsibility, decency and prudence, while respecting the privacy of the bereaved families. The CNA issued sanctions for breaches of the Audiovisual Law no. 504/2002 republished, and of the Audiovisual Code (CNA Decision no. 220 of 24 February 2011 with further modifications and completions on the Regulatory Code of audiovisual content) on this subject (see inter alia IRIS 2010-8/42, IRIS 2011-10/37, IRIS 2012-3/31, IRIS 2014-1/40).

The CNA requested the broadcasters to respect the victims' families’ wishes to refrain from filming, transmitting, retrieving and displaying images from the funerals of the victims, in accordance with the obligations of the audiovisual media services providers, stipulated by Art. 41 (1) and 45 of the Audiovisual Code. Art. 41 (1) provides that the audiovisual media service providers are not allowed to broadcast: a) images of a victim without her/his consent; b) images of a person without discernment or deceased, without the consent of the family; c) images that exploit or highlight trauma or injuries to a person. Exceptions are the humanitarian cases, whose broadcasting requires the consent of that person or of the family. The Art. 45 (1) stipulates: (1) Everyone has the right to respect for privacy in difficult times, such as a bereavement or a misfortune. (2) In situations of human suffering, natural disasters, accidents or acts of violence, media service providers have an obligation to respect the image and dignity of persons in such situations.

The CNA issued sanctions for commercial TV stations for breaches of the above mentioned rules in connection with the coverage of the Colectiv Club tragedy. The Digi 24 TV station was fined with 10,000 lei (~2,250 EUR) for breaches of the Art. 3 (2) of the Audiovisual Law [(2) All audiovisual media services providers must ensure the public receives objective information by correctly presenting the facts and events and they must favour the free formation of opinions] and of Art. 64 (1) b) of the Audiovisual Code [(1)

Under the public fundamental right to information, the audiovisual media service providers are compelled to respect the following principles: b) the information regarding a fact or an event shall be correct, verified and presented unbiased and in good faith]. The ROMÂNIA TV and KANAL D stations were sanctioned with public summons for breaches of the Art. 45 (1) of the Audiovisual Code.

1* This article is kindly supported by the electronic newsletter "IRIS - Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory" available free of charge. More information at:

Eugen Cojocariu, Radio Romania International

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  • The Recomandarea CNA nr. 4/2015 din 03 noiembrie 2015 cu privire la mediatizarea tragediei din clubul Colectiv (CNA Recommendation no. 4/2015 of 3 November 2015 on the media coverage of the Colectiv Club tragedy)
  • The Decizia nr. 569 din 12.11.2015 privind amendarea cu 10.000 lei a S.C. RCS & RDS S.A. Bucureşti, pentru postul DIGI 24 Bucureşti (Decision no. 569 of 12 November 2015 on the 10,000 lei fine of S.C. RCS & RDS S.A. Bucharest for the DIGI 24 station Bucharest)
  • The Decizia nr. 570 din 12.11.2015 privind somarea S.C. DOGAN MEDIA INTERNATIONAL S.A. BUCUREŞTI - pentru postul de televiziune KANAL D (Decision no. 570 of 12 November 2015 on sanctionning of S.C. DOGAN MEDIA INTERNATIONAL S.A. Bucharest for the KANAL D station)
  • The Decizia nr. 571 din 12.11.2015 privind somarea S.C. RIDZONE COMPUTERS S.R.L. - pentru postul de televiziune ROMÂNIA TV (Decision no. 571 of 12 November 2015 on sanctionning of S.C. RIDZONE COMPUTERS S.R.L. for the ROMÂNIA TV station)

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Source information: This article was originally published by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom –