Public Trust in Bulgarian Media Further Down in 2015 - Survey
Bulgarian media continue to have poor reputation as independent sources of information, while the percentage of Bulgarian citizens who trust media falls to 12%, Foundation Media Democracy (FMD) and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) announced in their 2015 annual report on Bulgarian media on Thursday.
Every eighth Bulgarian believes in media freedom, while 65% of the citizens disagree that media are free, shows a survey of Market Links institute, in which 1,000 Bulgarians were interviewed.
The report, available on KAS's website, shows that the 12.4% share of people who answered media outlets in Bulgaria are "rather free" (9.7%) or "completely free" (2.7%), is 4.5% down from the previous year.
The share of those describing the media as either "rather dependent" or "completely dependent" was 65.3% last year, 6.2% up from the year before. Respectively, respondents who said Bulgarian media outlets are "neither independent nor dependent" make up 18.1% of the total, 4% down.
"There is no systematic repression of critical journalists in Bulgaria,” Christian Spahr, Head of the Media Program South East Europe of KAS, said.
Spahr, however, made clear, that pressure from political and private individuals, a trend towards monopolisation in the newspaper sector, inefficient legal regulation and weak self-regulation are among the reasons for the lack of media independence in the country.
In a worldwide context, Bulgaria’s press freedom currently ranks 106th out of 180 countries, according to Reporters Without Borders 2015 report on press freedom.
Alongside the decreasing quality of information received by media, Bulgarian citizens think they are insufficiently informed by politicians, the survey shows. Two thirds (67%) of Bulgarians evaluate the public relations of politicians as poor or very poor.
FMD content analysis of more than 40,000 news items concludes that in general, media are focusing more on political leaders than on political parties. It also reveals that Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is the most frequently mentioned personality in political news, followed by President Rosen Plevneliev.
In 2015, Borisov has been mentioned in 23% of the analysed reports and news programmes. According to Foundation Media Democracy, the “media rating” of Borisov is 3.1, which means that the Prime Minister is mentioned three times more in positive context than in negative.
Among the other most mentioned personalities in Bulgarian media are Radan Kanev (Reformist Bloc), Rumyana Bachvarova (Minister of Interior, GERB) and Hristo Ivanov (Reformist Bloc, former Minister of Justice).
Political leaders who in 2015 have been reported negatively in media outlets are, among others, Volen Siderov (Ataka), Radan Kanev, Lyutvi Mestan (ex-leader of Movement for Freedoms and Rights) and Mihail Mikov (BSP party leader).
The European refugee crisis has been mainly described in a neutral character in Bulgarian media, the report concludes. According to the FMD's analysis President Rosen Plevneliev is portrayed with an especially positive position towards refugees.
A very critical position towards refugees is associated in the media with the Bulgarian Orthodox church, representatives of the police and Ministry of Interior.
Foundation Media Democracy's report is based on Market Links institute’s analysis of more than 40,000 news items of three daily newspapers (Trud, Telegraph, 24 hours), three television channels (BNT, bTV, Nova TV) and three online media (Blitz, Dnevnik, Offnews).
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