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România Liberă was founded in early 1943, during World War II, as an underground organ of the Romanian Communist Party. During the war it opposed the Nazi-allied government of Ion Antonescu, issuing calls to sabotage of the war industry and open armed resistance. After the party gained power, it became one of its official mouthpieces, second to Scînteia as a Romanian daily concentrating more on local issues than on national and international news. It was also the only Romanian newspaper allowed to publish full-page advertisement sections.
In 1990, shortly after the Romanian Revolution of 1989, but before the rise of independent television in Romania, its circulation briefly rose as high as 1.5 million. However, those numbers rapidly fell off and in 2000 the paper was purchased by the German company WAZ. Echoing complaints of journalists at rival daily Evenimentul Zilei, which is owned by the Swiss press trust Ringier, România Liberă journalists complained in September 2004 that foreign owners are telling them to lessen political coverage and tone down their negative reporting of the government. Their concern has been echoed by a variety of organizations including the Open Society Foundation. Management has denied the charges.
In the case of România Liberă, this protest took the form of a statement in the edition of September 13, 2004, in which the newspaper's editors protested interference by WAZ. They accused their German ownership of having no concern for the public interest, and accused Klaus Overbeck in particular of trying to dictate to them what they could print in the newspaper. At the time of purchase WAZ promised to confine themselves to the business side of the newspaper and stay out of editorial matters.
In 2010 WAZ left the Romanian market and its shares at România Liberă, leaving businessman Dan Grigore Adamescu as single share holder of Medien Holding Group.
- Unesco.org, Romania: computer-generated freedom
- Business Romania, Fears for press freedom on the rise in Romania, September 28, 2004
- Attacks on the Press 2004: Romania, Committee to Protect Journalists. Accessed online 16 August 2006.
- Magda Spiridon, Gabriela Palade, Gelu Trandafir, Revoluţie în stand-by. Deocamdată, Băcanu şi echipa sa rămân la România Liberă" ("Revolution on Standby. For the time being, Băcanu and team remain at România Liberă"), Evenimentul Zilei, 30 October 2004. Accessed online 16 August 2006, reproduced on HotNews.ro. (Romanian)
- (Romanian) România Liberă online