The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists group, today called for more political commitment from Bulgaria's new government to create a genuine public broadcasting system.
"If Bulgaria's leaders mean what they say about democratic will and reform they must move quickly to resolve the crisis in confidence in public broadcasting," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ.
An IFJ report made available today also called for solidarity among journalists and journalists groups in Bulgaria in their campaign for genuine public service broadcasting in Bulgaria.
Following requests from the Union of Bulgarian Journalists and the Union of Journalists in Bulgaria - Podkrepa, the IFJ organized a mission to assess the current state of Bulgarian Broadcasting and advise on the journalists' campaign. The mission examined developments since the protests at the Bulgarian National Radio earlier in the year and growing discontent at the mismanagement of the Bulgarian National Television.
The mission heard evidence of:
Political influence in elections of senior management;
Lack of transparency and allegations of serious financial irregularities in state television;
Legislative confusion regarding the operation of both the Bulgarian National Radio and Television;
Absence of regulations governing editorial independence.
John Barsby, Co-Chair of the IFJ Public Service Broadcasting Campaign, identified unity and solidarity between journalists as key to the establishment of genuine public service values in the Bulgarian Broadcasters. He said that "while divisions remain, it will be much more difficult to achieve change. Politicians and managers can brush aside individuals but would find it much more difficult to ignore large groups with constructive arguments and strong evidence in support of the changes …"
"It is important to persuade the civil population of the importance of an independent public broadcasting system and involve them in any campaign to achieve this end," he added.
The IFJ Mission recommended, among other actions, urgent moves to achieve the following results:
A single governing body, free of political interference and influence, which has overall control on both content and technical matters, and provides full editorial independence for broadcasters;
Changes in the law to eliminate the evident political pressures on broadcasters and staff working in both radio and television;
Financial independence for the Public Service Broadcasters;
Appointments of senior managers made on merit and not on a political basis;
Reforms in the conduct of industrial relations to guarantee that staff are treated fairly;
The mission was part of the IFJ Global "Save Public Broadcasting" Campaign launched at the IFJ Congress in Seoul earlier this year. For full details of the campaign and a copy of the Bulgaria report visit the IFJ website at:
The IFJ is also carrying out the Media For Democracy in South-eastern Europe programme supported by the European Commission. For further details on IFJ activities in SE Europe visit the IFJ website