The war between Bulgarian publishers by no means should be transferred on EU-level

The Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria (AEJ) acclaims the concern about media freedom in Bulgaria, expressed by the EU-Commissioner Neelie Kroes. We consider that the engagement of the EU institutions, and the Commission, in particular, with this specific problem, is a positive development.  In this regard, we warmly welcome the public hearing on media freedom, organized by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) on the 6th of June 2012. AEJ-Bulgaria shares the majority of the concerns, expressed during the discussion.
At the same time, we would like to express our great amazement of the fact that this forum turned into an occasion for another demonstration of the war between the two major publishers’ groups in Bulgaria: the Union of Publishers in Bulgaria and New Media Group. We believe that organizers of the forum should give a proper explanation on the criteria for selecting the participants and on the fact that no representative was invited from both the two big media unions.  However, we consider that under no circumstances the debate on media freedom should be used for solving private or economic disputes.
We should mention the utterly intolerable reaction on this occasion of the daily newspaper Monitor. It reacted by assaulting directly journalists that were present at the public hearing in Brussels in an editorial commentary which was not signed by its author. This act, by no means enhances the development of the media sector in Bulgaria.
AEJ-Bulgaria believes that drawing a realistic picture of the Bulgarian media landscape is possible only when the opinion of the journalists is journalists is clearly distinguished from the interests that the media owners pursue. The problem with public discussions in general is that it is not clear to what extent the involved journalists present their own point of view as professionals or whether they defend the official policy of the media they work for. This is the reason why the Association of European Journalists- Bulgaria organizes an annual survey on the freedom of expression, which allows the journalists to evaluate the quality of the media freedom by themselves and to decide if they would like to do it anonymously. The second edition of the survey will be launched in the autumn of 2012. We invite all the representatives of local media to take part in it in order to retrieve the real dimensions of the freedom of expression in Bulgaria.

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