“If Bulgaria was not an EU member, it currently would not get accession”. This was the message left by participants in a media conference held in Sofia and organized by the Union of Publishers in Bulgaria. Before foreign diplomats and international non-governmental organisations the Union presented its newest publication - “A White Paper on Media Freedom” - which unveils the highly deteriorated media environment in the country. The rank of Bulgaria in the World Press Freedom Index has dropped significantly during the last ten years (from 36 in 2006 to 109 in 2017). A representative of “Reporters without borders” said that the situation in the country is getting more and more dramatic, while several publishers revealed the methods of the government to exert pressure on their work.
Juliana Velcheva, a Bulgarian journalist who wrote revelations about the local authorities in Dobrich is being harassed with slanders and fake news in the social media. After a fake alert, now five state institutions are inspecting her work and business.
The European Commission launched a public consultation on fake news and online disinformation and set up a High-Level Expert Group representing academics, online platforms, news media and civil society organizations. An article from Mediapool (Bulgaria).
The Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria (AEJ-Bulgaria) argues that politicians exert unwarrantable pressure over Bulgarian media. This is one of the main statements in the fourth edition of its traditional online inquiry on freedom of speech attitudes. The instruments of politicians to influence media contents are getting more and more sophisticated. AEJ-Bulgaria argues that in 2015 media were more dependent on advertisers while in 2017 they were replaced by politicians.
According to Open Society Institute – Sofia survey, Bulgaria is at the bottom of media literacy in Europe. The index, produced by Open Society Institute, is based on five key criteria: media freedom, education, trust in society, and the use of information and communication technologies. Bulgaria, Montenegro, Albania and Turkey are in the last places, while Netherlands, Denmark and Estonia are at the top.
Dozens of journalists protested in Sofia against the State pressure. The demonstration was provoked by the threats against the Nova TV host Viktor Nikolaev. The former GERB MP Anton Todorov and the Deputy Prime Minister Valery Simeonov warned him that he could loose his job if he continued to ask awkward questions. “Silence Kills” and “We Have Questions, Not Requests” were some of the main messages of the protest organized by the Association of European Journalists in Bulgaria.
The deputy from the ruling party GERB Anton Todorov and the deputy Prime Minister and United Patriots party co-leader Valeri Simeonov threatened a journalist from the national Nova TV. They warned him that if he kept asking awkward questions he would be fired.
In Bulgaria data shows signs of unauthorized eavesdropping of politicians, magistrates and journalists. It was announced by the director of the National Office for the Control of Special Intelligence Means (NOCSIM), Boyko Rashkov. According to him, this has been done for the purpose of intimidation, pressure or blackmail. "Until 2014 the State Agency for National Security (DANS) was one of the state authorities which wanted NOCSIM to act in absolute conflict with the law. Annually there has been unauthorized eavesdropping aimed at pressure and intimidation of politicians, magistrates and journalists”, said Rashkov.
Crimes, disasters and incidents are the top news in the most popular television and online media in Bulgaria. According to a survey conducted by the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) the Bulgarian media create a "catastrophic agenda" and the really important news cannot reach the people.