Bulgaria is ranked lower in the World Press Freedom Index 2017 than any other European Union member, Reporters Without Borders said in its annual report on the index.
“This is due to an environment dominated by corruption and collusion between media, politicians, and oligarchs including Deylan Peevski, a former head of Bulgaria’s main intelligence agency and owner of the New Bulgarian Media Group,” Reporters Without Borders said.
It said that Peevski’s group has six newspapers and controls nearly 80 per cent of print media distribution.
“The government’s allocation of EU funding to certain media outlets is conducted with a complete lack of transparency, in effect bribing editors to go easy on the government in their political reporting or refrain from covering certain problematic stories altogether,” Reporters Without Borders said.
The index ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists. This year’s index put Bulgaria in 109th place.
“It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country. It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country.”
Reporters Without Borders said that its 2017 index shows an increase in the number of countries where the media freedom situation is very grave and highlights the scale and variety of the obstacles to media freedom throughout the world.
The index “shows that violations of the freedom to inform are less and less the prerogative of authoritarian regimes and dictatorships.
“Once taken for granted, media freedom is proving to be increasingly fragile in democracies as well. In sickening statements, draconian laws, conflicts of interest, and even the use of physical violence, democratic governments are trampling on a freedom that should, in principle, be one of their leading performance indicators.”
The 2017 index, Reporters Without Borders said, “reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise.
“We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms – especially in democracies.”
(Photo: Brano Hudak/sxc.hu)