New report shows bleak picture of state of media in Bulgaria

Stagnation is a fitting description of the current state of play of the media environment in Bulgaria in 2020, the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria said on October 9 as it released its fifth consecutive study on media freedom in the country.

The snapshot which has emerged from the replies of the respondents in the fifth freedom of speech perception survey conducted by AEJ Bulgaria is almost identical to that in 2015, the association said.

Nearly one out of two Bulgarian journalists described the situation in the media industry as “poor” or “very poor”, with a mere three per cent of respondents describing it as “excellent”.

In 2020, the culture of pressure appears to have grown perceptibly stronger, the association said.

“Against the backdrop of a slight improvement in 2017 following the strongly negative trends outlined by the survey conducted two years earlier, a dangerous trend of further deterioration is gaining momentum.

“Outside pressure on the media from political actors has not only failed to subside but has in fact doubled compared to other centres of influence on editorial content, such as economic players, advertisers and central and local government bodies,” the association said.

The self-censorship and self-limitations journalists impose on themselves in their work have evolved into a disquieting unwritten rule. In extraordinary situations and periods of unrest, both have become more visible.

Measures against the concentration of print media ownership and distribution continue to be regarded as an instrument for improvement of the media environment in Bulgaria.

“Hope is bestowed on alternative forms of journalism (media that offer a different angle and a more in-depth analysis of events, seek independent financing through donations, monthly subscription plans, etc),” the AEJ-Bulgaria said. The report, in English, may be read at this link.

(Photo: Serkan ER/

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