Union of Bulgarian Journalists Blows Whistle about Frequent Encroachment on Journalists' Rights, Freedom of Speech, Slams Bill on Financing of Media Outlets
Sofia, July 9 (BTA) - The leadership of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists (UBJ) issued a strong-worded statement to voice concern over "increasingly frequent" encroachment on the rights of journalists and the freedom of speech, and slam proposed legislation concerning the financing of media outlets.
The statement says that layoffs in media organizations have become widespread in recent months, as have late payment of wages and drastic violations of the legislation.
They recall that over a year ago they submitted to the parliamentary culture and media committee legislative proposals aimed to protect journalists. "We have not yet received any feedback on these from the legislators. Instead, they hastily adopted on principle a bill tabled by Delyan Peevski and another three MPs of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms," the statement says.
It refers to revisions to the Mandatory Deposit of Printed and Other Works Act, co-authored by Peevski, a businessman, MP and alleged media mogul, adopted on first reading with support from all political groups except for the Socialist party.
The bill aims to reveal the real owners and financing used by media organizations: all sources except for the proceeds of advertising and bank loans. The opponents of the bill believe that it is aimed against the few remaining opposition-minded news media, which use financing from non-government organizations and foreign grants.
The UBJ calls the revision "meaningless" as they "fail to show the role of the government in distributing public resources and EU funding to the media outlets controlled by it, continues to cover up for non-maket bank financing and leaves in the dark the interference of the power-holders in the advertising market and press distribution".
The Union says it is "disgusted by the impudence of the bill's authors and the indifference of the rest of MPs to the fact that the bill is being pushed through in apparent conflict of interest, caters to the interests of Delyan Peevski rather than those of the public, and destroys journalism".
The UBJ intends to inform the European and international journalism organizations about the problems in Bulgaria. It will organize a discussion of journalists' rights and freedom of speech on July 12.