Call For Dialogue With Journalists and Media Staff at Bulgarian National Radio

Alexander Tomov Chair National Council of Radio and Television February 9th, 2001 Dear Mr Tomov, On behalf of the International Federation of Journalists, I am writing to express our concern at recent developments at Bulgarian National Radio where journalists and media staff have called on the National Council of Radio and Television to withdraw their appointment of a new Director General. This dispute raises serious concerns over the quality of independence of the national broadcaster. We share 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. We believe the journalists and media staff at Bulgarian National Radio should be fully consulted over the appointment of a new Director General. We further support 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. In particular, we support their demand for a transparent and public system of financing for the national broadcaster. I want to stress that although we recognise the enormous strides made over the past ten years when we have seen the effective transition from communist rule and the creation of democratic society in Bulgaria, we remain concerned that there is still work to be done to establish an efficient and transparent system of public service broadcasting in which there is public confidence. As you know, public broadcasting is a cornerstone of democratic pluralism, providing citizens with a range of opinions in a professional manner and organised according to well-established principles of transparency, independence and accountability. The IFJ and its regional organization the EFJ have worked closely with journalists' groups and political authorities within the region in recent years to highlight the importance of public broadcasting. The recent crisis at Czech TV and continuing problems in Hungary suggest that within the region there is still much to be done to improve the state of public broadcasting. The issue also forms a central part of the recently agreed Charter for Media Freedom adopted by the Stability Pact. We urge you to enter into dialogue with the journalists' unions and the staff at Bulgarian National Radio to find a solution to the current dispute that will allow the journalists and media staff to feel confident about the management with which they work and that will safeguard professional standards and editorial independence at Bulgarian radio. Yours Sincerely, AIDAN WHITE General Secretary