The Association of European Journalists –International is an official Observer in the Council of Europe’s Media Steering Committee and every year the national sections have the obligation to present a report on the state of Journalism and Freedom of speech in their home countries. AEJ-Bulgaria monitors the media environment on regular basis by issuing critical positions and here we present the annual roundup of all infringements against freedom of expression.
The general trend is negative. Bulgaria ranks 109th out of 180 countries in the “Reporters without Borders” 2017 World Press Freedom Index, with the country expected to go further down the list in the next edition of the ranking. Furthermore, Alpha Research, Bulgarian sociological agency, indicates that more than 65% of Bulgarians do not trust the media.
There are stable tendencies of control and restriction of media pluralism, evidence of which can be observed in the Survey on the state of Bulgarian media and the nature of pressure, which AEJ-Bulgaria conducts on every 2 years. The latest one was published in 2017. It shows the coming back of the political pressure, including that 26 % of journalists admit that they self-censor their articles and the owners are restricting criticism toward the government or VIP.
You can download the text from here: Annual Report 2017.
In general there are numerous media print outlets, many TV and radio stations, formerly the legislation is good and there are constitutional guarantees for the freedom of speech. At the same time there are quite few critical and serious professional journalistic investigations that dare to touch powerful people and structures. The question who owns the media stays and who is behind the official names as well.
Only the owners of media that criticize the government are under scrutiny and under fire of possible or real legal charges.
The media that are attacking the civil society and that are praising the government receive also financial support from the government through communication money for the operational programs of EU. Thus the authorities buy media comfort.