What policies for free and independent media in Bulgaria?

The Centre for Liberal Strategies (CLS) held a workshop on what policies are needed for free and independent media in Bulgaria. The event, link which took place on 14 December 2012, focused on the critical issues for the media policy in the country: state funding of the media, the ethical standards of the journalistic profession, and the concentration and transparency of media ownership. The aim of the workshop was to provide a forum for discussion of the policy suggestions for the development of free and independent media in Bulgaria, drafted by the Bulgarian MEDIADEM team. The workshop brought together media experts, academics, policy makers, politicians, journalists and representatives of journalistic associations.

The event was opened by Dr Daniel Smilov, associate professor of political science at the Sofia University and programme director at the CLS. He presented the main results of MEDIADEM project and also outlined the project’s policy suggestions for the development of free and independent media in Bulgaria. Dr Smilov also chaired the first panel, which focused on state funding of the media in Bulgaria and media freedom and independence. Panelists included: Prof Georgi Lozanov, chair of the Council for Electronic Media, the independent electronic media regulator in Bulgaria, Ms Irina Nedeva, journalist with the Bulgarian National Radio and Kiril Vultchev, presenter at the national Darik radio and member of the National Council for Journalistic Ethics.

The second panel, chaired by Dr Ruzha Smilova, researcher at the Bulgarian MEDIADEM team, discussed policies for enhancing ethical standards in the journalistic profession. Among the panelists were influential media expert Prof Orlin Spassov, Prof. Ivaylo Ditchev, cultural anthropologist, Mr Vesselin Stoynev, journalist and editor of the Trud daily and Kristina Hristova, president of the Bulgarian Chapter of the Association of European Journalists. The chief of the cabinet of the prime-minister, Mrs Boryana Bachvarova, also discussed the project’s suggestions for strengthening the self-regulation of the journalistic profession in the country.

The final panel was devoted to policies for enhancing transparency of media ownership and countering excessive concentration. It was chaired by Dr Georgy Ganev, programme director at the CLS and researcher at the Bulgarian MEDIADEM team. The panelists included Dr Radomir Cholakov, media law expert, executive director of the Union of Bulgarian Publishers and chair of the Council for Journalistic Ethics in the Press, and Dr Ivo Indzhov, media expert. Among the discussants were representatives of the Standing Committee on Media and Civil Society of the Bulgarian Parliament as well as advisors of the Bulgarian President.

The workshop and the project findings were well covered in the Bulgarian media.

Dr Smilov presented the results of the MEDIADEM project and the policy suggestions of the Bulgarian team in the morning news show of the Bulgarian National Television.

The influential Capital weekly devoted an article to the MEDIADEM project and its policy recommendations.

The web-journal Kultura reported on workshop discussions on the topic of state funding for the media and featured featuring interviews with some of the panelists.

The agenda of the workshop is available in Bulgarian and English.

For more information you may contact Ruzha Smilova.