Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 17:17 UK

BBC shuts down Romanian service

BBC Romanian Service website
The Romanian section fought media battles in the Cold War

The BBC World Service is to close its Romanian language service, after 69 years of broadcasting.

Transmissions in Romanian will cease on 1 August.

In a statement, World Service Director Nigel Chapman praised the service, which he said had been "a beacon of free and independent information".

The closure was a result of increased media competition in Romania, falling audiences and the need for savings across the World Service, he said.

The Romanian Service will be the only language service to close during the term of the current World Service budget, which runs until April 2011, he said.

The World Service plans to retain all 31 remaining language services, six of them within Europe.

Mr Chapman said most Romanians preferred to get their news from television now and the service's audience figures had fallen to less than 3% of the adult population.

BBC broadcasting in Romanian to Moldova will also cease with the closure.

'Devastating blow'

During the Cold War the service battled against the tight media control exercised by Romania's communist authorities.

"Everyone agrees that their presence has contributed to the building of free and open media in Romania," Mr Chapman said in his tribute.

In December 2005 the BBC announced the closure of 10 language services - eight of them broadcasting to Eastern Europe - to pay for a new Arabic TV channel.

The National Union of Journalists' broadcasting organiser, Paul McLaughlin, told the BBC News website that the closure was shocking.

"It is a devastating blow for a service that is renowned for providing exemplary journalism, covering the area and the region."

He said that coming after management had given the impression that no more language services would be closed it represented a "double blow".

"It seems that, bit by bit, the BBC is intent on dismantling the World Service," he said, adding that members were considering the possibility of strike action.

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