World Media 2007: Romania

2006 was the year of the media mogul, as Romania's empire builders snapped up assets and opportunities before the country entered the more stable milieu of the European Union in 2007.

Media moguls went on the rampage in Romania in 2006, launching and acquiring assets to establish and enlarge their empires. Cynics might say all this activity was just another part of Romania's preparations for entry into the European Union in January 2007, as the EU will expect the government to crack down on corruption.

The second-biggest Eastern Euro-pean country after Poland is ripe for exploitation and growth. In 2005, incomes were around one-third of the EU average; the infrastructure and public services are among the worst in Europe, corruption is more habitual and government less stable.

But, despite their geographical location, the 22 million Romanians regard themselves as less "eastern" than their neighbours. Rather than a Slavic tongue, they speak a Romance language, reflecting historical links to Latin culture, while the president Traian Basescu's pro-US policies have lead to the country being described as "a bastion of Atlanticism in the Black Sea region".

Romania is poor, but its economy is growing fast, by around 7 per cent this year, and a newly confident Romanian elite wants to put the country on the map. There is plenty of interest from outside media investors. Sanoma Hearst, a joint venture between the Finnish media giant SanomaWSOY and Hearst International, continues to launch magazine titles. Ringier Romania is a major player; launching a free paper, Compact, in May last year. Meanwhile, the Turkish group Dogan Media plans to launch an entertainment channel in Romania in 2007 and the Greek publisher Liberis Publications plans three titles in Romania in the coming year.

But the most colourful media action has been the feverish empire building of four wealthy Romanian entrepreneurs in the run-up to EU membership. Last year, the controversial billionaire Sorin Ovidiu Vantu acquired magazine titles, websites, a business channel and Romania's first rolling news station, among other media assets. Another controversial billionaire Dinu Patriciu has also been shopping; he now owns just over 5 per cent of the newspaper market.

Meanwhile, two established media owners, Dan Voiculescu and Adrian Sarbu, have also been waving their chequebooks. Not content with launching Romania's first high-definition TV service, Sarbu, the founder of commercial station ProTV, set up an internet publisher, Media Pro Interactiv.

USdollars million at current prices. *Estimated
Total News- Maga- TV Radio Cinema Out- Online
papers zines door
2000 127.7 20.0 11.0 76.0 4.5 0.2 16.0 0.0
2001 118.3 18.0 11.0 70.0 5.0 0.3 14.0 0.0
2002 125.5 20.0 12.0 75.0 6.0 0.5 12.0 0.0
2003 153.7 22.0 14.0 100.0 6.5 0.7 10.0 0.5
2004 225.9 34.3 26.1 127.9 14.1 1.8 20.1 1.6
2005 307.3 34.4 32.9 188.3 20.0 2.3 26.6 2.8
2006 413.1 37.8 44.1 265.5 26.6 2.9 30.6 5.6
2007* 535.6 45.5 59.9 358.4 32.5 3.4 27.5 8.4
2008* 670.1 64.7 68.9 448.0 39.7 4.0 33.0 11.8
2009* 801.4 75.0 79.5 537.6 48.5 4.7 39.6 16.5

Adspend notes 1) Before discounts to 1998; after discounts from 1999. 2)
Excludes classified. 3) Excludes production costs. 4) Excludes agency
commission. 5) Internet includes all forms of paid advertising (banners,
skyscrapers, etcetera).

Newspaper: Libertatea (daily, 248,000 copies)
Business magazine: Capital (weekly, 49,622 copies)
Consumer magazine: Practic in bucatarie (monthly, 321,608 copies)
Most-watched TV programme (2005): Cei Mai Iubiti
Best new TV format: Dansez Pentru Tine (a competitive dance show)
Circulation: Biroul Roman de Audit al Tirajelor
Readership: Biroul Roman de Audit al Tirajelor
TV viewing: AGB TNS International
Newspapers: ArboMedia, Ringier Romania, Publimedia International
Magazines: Ringier, Catavencu, Publimedia International
TV: MPI, Intact, SRTV


- Media topic du jour

While the media market continues on an upward trajectory, there is concern that this could be flawed, with a cluttered marketplace and abrupt price hiking.

- Reigning media guru and why

The co-owner and founder of TV station Pro TV, and one of the richest men in Romania, Adrian Sarbu took over Central European Media Enterprises' third operating group in 2006.

- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why

Oil magnate Dinu Patriciu has turned to media, investing in newspapers and websites.

- Car to drive: Dacia Logan.

- Phone to carry: Nokia 5300.

- Whatever you do, don't say: The EU isn't all it's cracked up to be.


McCann Erickson painted the country red - overnight - for the launch of Vodafone. The agency created a spectacular "opening" show with red everything in Bucharest's Revolution Square; the website turned red; TV newsreaders dressed in red; newspapers had red cover pages; and 1,000 red posters went up overnight.