International observers criticise Bulgarian media coverage that preceded country’s elections

In a preliminary report the day after Bulgaria’s March 26 parliamentary elections, international observers have criticised Bulgarian media coverage of the campaigns.

The media provided contestants with a platform to present their views through debates, talk shows and paid advertisement, the report, by monitors from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said.

While contestants actively used the free time provided on public broadcasters, “sparse broadcast news coverage and limited editorial content in the print media, along with a lack of political investigative and analytical reporting, significantly limited the information available to voters”.

“Paid advertisement in print and, to a lesser extent, broadcast media were often almost indistinguishable from editorial coverage, thus misleading voters about their nature,” according to the preliminary report.

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(Photo: Roman Jakic, right, head of the ODIHR limited election observation mission for the early parliamentary elections in Bulgaria, speaking with the chairperson of a precinct election commission at a polling station in Sofia, March 26 2017. OSCE/Thomas Rymer)