Only 12 per cent of Bulgarians believe that the media are independent, while trust in the media has further decreased, according to a poll commissioned by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the results of which were released on February 11 2016.
The Bulgarian media sector still has a poor reputation. “Only every eighth Bulgarian believes in true freedom of media,” said Christian Spahr, head of the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
According to the opinion poll, done by Market Links interviewing 1000 Bulgarians in December 2015, 65 per cent of Bulgarians disagree that media are free.
Many were undecided and only 12 per cent explicitly believed that the Bulgarian media are free in their reporting.
“There is no systematic repression of critical journalists in Bulgaria. However, media freedom is restricted by scattered pressure from political actors, media owners and advertising customers, as well as by unstable employment conditions and self-censorship,” Spahr said.
Reasons for the lack of independence are, furthermore, the trend towards monopolisation in the newspaper sector, inefficient legal regulation and weak self-regulation.
In a worldwide context, Bulgaria’s press freedom is currently ranked 106th by Reporters Without Borders.
The public relations of politicians was negatively evaluated as well, the poll found: 67 per cent of Bulgarians feel insufficiently informed, assessing the public relations of politicians as poor or very poor.
The survey focused on the political class in general and did not distinguish between government authorities and political parties.
“High-ranking politicians need to invest more in a modern and transparent information policy,” Spahr said.
According to an annual media monitoring by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Foundation Media Democracy, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov is still the most frequently mentioned personality in the political news.
Borissov was mentioned in 23 per cent of reports analysed, on three Bulgarian-language television stations and two large-circulation Bulgarian-language newspapers.
The second most frequently mentioned personality was President Rossen Plevneliev.
Ranks three to five were occupied by Radan Kanev (Reformist Bloc), Roumyana Buchvarova (Minister of Interior, GERB) and Hristo Ivanov (Reformist Bloc, former Minister of Justice).The previous year these ranks were occupied by Sergei Stanishev (BSP), Plamen Oresharski and Lyutvi Mestan (former leader of the MRF).
Borissov and Plevneliev were most positively described among all high-ranking politicians in the Bulgarian-language media in 2015. According to FMD, the “media rating” of Borissov is 3.1. This means that the Prime Minister is mentioned three times more in a positive context than in a negative context.
Plevneliev’s rating is 1.9, according to a study of three Bulgarian-language television stations, three Bulgarian-language newspapers and three Bulgarian-language local websites.
The European refugee crisis is mainly neutrally described in the Bulgarian media, according to the analysis by the Foundation Media Democracy. Plevneliev is portrayed with an especially positive position towards refugees. A very critical stance towards refugees is associated in the media with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, representatives of the police and the Ministry of Interior.
(Photo: Brano Hudak/sxc.hu)