A plea to the state authorities to support the responsible and ethical journalism

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This common stand was adopted during a meeting held by the Association of the European journalists – Bulgaria on 12 November on the following topic: “The reinstatement of self-regulation in media – possible solutions?” Journalists, citizens, human rights activists, university lecturers and representatives of the advertisers took part in the meeting. Those who could not participate were also involved drafting of this stand.
 
The recognition of the media as “a public watchdog in a democratic society” and the restoration of trust in media as credible sources of information and ideas of high public value demands more than mere activization of journalists.
 
It is necessary for the state to sustain a distinct state policy of no-compromise and refusal of support of media that are explicably violating ethical standards, the national legislation or common European values.
 
We rely on the new government to reform the state policies and to differentiate from such practices. This can be done if clear requirements based on ethical standards in journalism are set. They would serve to regulate the distribution of public finances for communication programs, media election packs, state commissions and municipal announcements in media.
 
A basic principle should be the rule of law as well as the supervision of well-established common professional ethical norms.
 
In regards to that we have come to the following proposals:
 
1. A compulsory requirement to be set for all media looking to participate in state commissions: they should sign the Ethical Code of Bulgarian media, adopted in 2004.
 
Other supplementary branch codes or codes of individual media that are not in conflict with the common national Ethical Code might appear and exist simultaneously. For the purposes of legality and uniform treatment of all media in Bulgaria we recommend in the rules for distribution of public funds to be included the national Ethical Code from year 2004. This paper was created in cooperation with European experts and was made legally bounding with a specific provision in the Law on the Radio and Television in Bulgaria.
 
2. A ban to be introduced for public funds to be directly or indirectly granted to media that do not comply with all legal requirements for transparency of their ownership as prescribed by the Law on Compulsory Deposition of Print or Other Matter. Such a ban should be introduced to electronic media that are not having on their websites a direct permanent access for their users to up to date information regarding their true ownership.
 
We propose those rules to be treated universal for all state or municipal authorities distributing public funds as well as municipal enterprises and trade companies in which the state or the municipality owns more than 50% of the capital.
 
 
List of signatories:
Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria,
Alexander Kashamov, Access to Information Programme,
Въпреки.com – а website for the culture in art and society – Zelma Almaleh,
Stefan Djambazov,
Dimitrana Alexandrova, journalist,
Ivan Dimov, journalist,
Marginalia – website for human rights, Juliana Metodieva,
Neli Ognyanova, lecturer,
Network for free speech: Adelina Marini, journalist; Emi Barouch, journalist;
Emil Robert Cohen, human rights activist; Iren Fileva, journalist; Kapka Todorova, journalist; Lili Todorova, journalist; Svetla Encheva, blogger and journalist; Tatyana Velichkova, journalist; Marin Bodakov, lecturer; Mitko Novkov, media critic; Ivan Bedrov, journalist; Lora Fileva, journalist; Ralitza Kovacheva, journalist, Vesislava Antonova, journalist,
Ruja Smilova, Program Director of Center for Liberal Strategies and lecturer in Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”,
Ruslan Trad, blogger,
Svetoslav Terziev, journalist, lecturer in Journalistic Deontology in Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”,
“Media Democracy” Foundation,
Move.bg – civil platform for cooperation and common action in the process of forming public policies,
Vevesti.bg, Evgeni Petrov.