'Bulgaria has made some progress in strengthening human rights protection, but this remains slow and fragile, in particular as regard … media freedom,' said Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, on 22th June 2015 while releasing a report on his visit to Bulgaria carried out from 9 to 11 February 2015.
Among the main concerns relating to media freedom are the lack of pluralism, opaque media ownership and financing, and editorial control exerted by political figures through advertisement and information contracts. 'The Bulgarian authorities should improve the independence of media outlets, including by distributing revenues from public advertisement and information contracts to private media outlets in a transparent and non-discriminatory way. They should also establish independent monitoring of media ownership and financing, as well as rules aimed at limiting excessive concentration of media ownership and favouring media pluralism' says the report.
The High Commissioner also deplores the environment conducive to widespread self-censorship & undue external pressure. In this context, he stressed the need for the Bulgarian authorities to better protect journalists, investigate effectively all attacks and intimidation against them and review current media legislation in order to better shield journalistic sources from undue pressure. He also recommends reducing the risk of censorship or self-censorship by ensuring that no fines are imposed by the Financial Supervision Commission for journalistic work, fully decriminalising defamation and guaranteeing the efficiency of media regulatory and ethical bodies, such as the Council for Electronic Media and the National Journalism Ethics Commission.
To see the full report, click here.
To see the report in a nutshell, click here.