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A new phenomenon: brands’ revolt. How advertising decreased on Romania TV and Antena 3 news channels because of tendentious reporting on protests against Government
de Razvan Diaconu , 10.2.2017
Against the background of protests caused by the Government’s initiative to amend the Criminal Code by emergency ordinance and the call of Frontline Club for brands to cancel advertising budgets that support TV stations that deviate from the rules of journalism, IQads.ro published Tuesday a short analysis of the list of brands promoted during the prime time shows on Romania TV and Antena 3 in the week 30 January – 5 February.
IQads.ro joined the initiative of Frontline Club and published every day the lists of brands promoted on Antena 3 and Romania TV while presenting the way these TV stations covered the events. The lists have been seen by over 100,000 people.
The result of this initiative, in short, as a comparison between the intervals of January 30 to February 2 and February 3 to February 5, was the following:
- Romania TV: change from 98 to 31 brands (of which 29 maintained +2 new ones)
- Antena 3: change from 104 to 29 brands (of which 25 maintained +4 new ones)
Lack of objectivity causes serious financial damages
According to the IQads.ro analysis, during the spreading out of the protests in front of the Government building (3-5 February), which coincided with the largest deviations from the basic journalistic norms:
- Romania TV recorded about 70% decrease in advertising
- Antena 3 recorded a decrease of about 76% in advertising
Noteworthy: Romania TV sent Monday a letter to several advertising agencies stating that the editorial policy of the TV station complies with all the rules of journalism and the audio-visual broadcasting regulations, as they maintain the political equidistance in their broadcasts and shows.
Back to the Frontline Club’s call, the following part is noteworthy:
“[…] by supporting the independent media, you can help improve the quality of the Romanian press.
Please note that the few media outlets that effectively work now to inform the citizens are struggling in most cases to survive and journalists often get paid the national minimum wage.
They really need visibility and financing to continue their work.
How A3, RTV and CNA have positioned regarding the protests
On the sixth day of protests, the reports of Romania TV station focused on the idea of a coup and some people who were paid to take to the streets by some obscure forces.
Antena 3 had some sudden changes of perspective: at the beginning, the ordinances were beneficial, according to the TV moderators, then they were not so anymore, and in the recent days, the TV station resumed the anti-protests attitude.
During this period, IQads.ro launched a debate on the responsibility that brands have in relations to the media channels they use for promoting their products. Overall, some brand representatives, professionals from the creative fields and media people, as well as industry associations – IAA, UAPR, ADC * RO – expressed the view that the only institution that should react is the National Audio-visual Council of Romania which was rather silent most of the time.
The story behind, told by IQads.ro
Some questions are as old as the hills. Why have we got here? – for instance. What does objectivity mean? What does advertising sell in fact?
And just because they are old and thousands of people from different times have been trying to answer them, and textbooks have been written to explain them, it does not mean that the answers have been found; or that people do not keep debating them fiercely. Sometimes it takes just a spark to relaunch them to the general attention.
This time, the spark were the Romanians who took to the streets to protest the measures of the Government.
Before all the madness started, we were thinking about a theme related to the responsibility that brands have in their promotional activities. Is the ultimate goal just to sell? What right do consumers have to criticize advertisements if they are not in the target group?
We have postponed this series because we thought it is an old topic, from some textbook, and wondered about the point for us to reinvent the wheel of marketing.
But then tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of Romanians took to the streets and their protest was distorted in the broadcasts of several news channels. So, a discussion about which we wrote last year resumed: on the moral dilemma of the brands related to the journalistic content they endorse by buying certain advertising space.