IFJ Backs Protest and a Strike Call of Bulgarian Radio Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest organisation of journalists, today gave its backing to the daily protests of journalists at the Bulgarian National Radio that could lead to a strike over the appointment of a new Director General. "This is yet another example of the political hands on the controls of public broadcasting", said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. The IFJ has carried out missions to the Czech Republic and Hungary in the last month to investigate problems over political management of public broadcasting. "It is evident that a widespread crisis over political influence in public broadcasting exists in the region", says the IFJ. "The authorities must take steps to eliminate political interference in the management of broadcasting." Protests over the newly appointed Director General at Bulgarian National Radio started 10 days ago in the form of daily gatherings in front of the radio headquarters and frequent broadcasting of The Beatles "Let It Be". In a letter to Alexander Tomov, President of the National Council of Radio and Television, on 9 February, the IFJ already expressed its concern over the appointment of a new Director General at the Bulgarian National Radio and asked the Council to reconsider. The dispute raises serious concerns over the quality of independence of the national broadcaster. The IFJ shares the worries of the staff at Bulgarian National Radio and the membership of the Union of Journalists in Bulgaria (Podkrepa) and the Bulgarian Union of Journalists over the procedure in which Mr. Ivan Borislavov was chosen as the new Director General. Moreover, the IFJ believes the journalists and media staff at Bulgarian National Radio should be fully consulted over the appointment of a new Director General. In addition, the IFJ supports the demands set out by the journalists' organisations for reform of Bulgarian National Radio and Television to ensure that it becomes a truly independent public service broadcaster in line with European standards.