One of the most controversial businessmen in Romania, Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, has revealed he owns a majority stake in a well-rated news TV channel "Realitatea", February 6. He came to the open on the last day of a deadline granted by the National Audiovisual Council (CNA) to some media institutions to make public their ownership.
After a EUMAP report "Television across Europe" was published in Romania, in October 2005, CNA asked Realitatea channel to declare its owner by February 6th. European Union’s Monitoring and Advocacy Program (EUMAP) has surveyed media policies in 20 European countries in order to identify the level of interference from political and economical involvement.
Romanian president Traian Basescu also slammed the illegitimate pressure groups behind media institutions, referring to the unconfirmed ownership of Realitatea TV by Sorin Ovidiu Vantu.
Vantu became the owner of the news channel after "concluding negotiations to take over" the Cypriot company Blue Link Comunicazzioni, holder of the majority stake of Realitatea. He refused to disclose any information about the purchasing sum and the former owner.
In a Realitatea interview, Vantu admitted he had owned the TV channel for a year and seven months already, but preferred to keep his involvement secret in order to let the news channel grow professionally, without any interference in the editorial policy. He promised to keep this policy of non-intervention.
The businessman’s name is linked to several financial scandals, amongst which the National Investment Fund (FNI). The business collapsed, and more than 300 thousand Romanians lost around $ 200 million. Sorin Ovidiu Vantu has been accused of defrauding investors but has never been sentenced, unlike his close allies.
Vantu’s fortune is estimated at $750 million.
Previously, Sorin Ovidiu Vantu owned a national press trust and a local newspapers network across the country, which he eventually sold up.
Realitatea TV channel is the first specialized news Romanian station that came into being in 2001 and signed a collaboration project with CNN international.