Olivier Basille: Media Situation in Bulgaria Is Disastrous

Society | January 31, 2013, Thursday // 15:35|  views

Olivier Basille, Chief Representative to the EU at Reporters Without Borders. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The situation with media in Bulgaria is disastrous, according to Olivier Basille, Chief Representative to the EU at Reporters Without Borders.

It emerged Wednesday that Bulgaria has slumped further in Reporters Without Borders' annual press freedom index, languishing at the bottom of the table among EU countries.

Bulgaria reached the shameful 87th place in the latest Reporters without Borders Press Freedom Index, the lowest in the EU, and down 10 spots in comparison with 2012, lagging behind countries such as Kosovo and Guinea.

Speaking Thursday for the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, Basille said he has formed the above opinion after talking to a number of Bulgarian journalists.

"Media market in Bulgaria is extremely complicated. I have visited Bulgaria 3 times and I know some people whom I trust and they tell me they are afraid to speak up because they might lose their jobs; jobs they need to support their families and because they love their trade. Many journalists work without contracts, in highly complicated economic conditions, and in times when it is very hard to find work. Today, there is a black list of journalists in Bulgaria, not because they are bad as professionals, but to the contrary, because they are so good they have become a threat," he stated.

The EU Director of Reporters Without Borders also shared his opinion on State media, stressing he would question ways to appoint their heads.

"This is another important issue that is valid in other European countries, France for example. Mostly how these nominations are made, by whom, and how they influence the policies of the media. I am not saying that there aren't top professionals in State media – there are many, many excellent and brave journalists in Bulgaria. The big problem is that they are very isolated," he said, adding many of the latter have been fired for reasons other than lack of financing.

Basille explained the limits of freedom are closing too quickly in Bulgaria while the crisis and the budget cuts further lead to self-censorship and avoiding subjects of large public interest.

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Tags: Olivier Basille, Chief Representative, EU, Reporters without Borders, State media, journalists, censorship, Bulgaria


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