US Ambassador to Bulgaria Marcie Ries Comments on the Country's Media Freedom
If the readers or viewers receive only one point of view from media, they are misinformed, stated US Ambassador to Bulgaria, Marcie Ries.
''I, myself, happen to be a former radio journalist and respect immensely the work of reporters and editors,'' added Ries at a Wednesday press conference. ''I also respect their role in democratic societies - it is key to the contemporary world.''
She noted that the role of media is important all over the world. Additionally, media ownership plays a great role on freedom of speech and that it would not be possible for a good public policy to be implemented without it.
In her words, people need to hear various viewpoints in order to be better aware of events across the world, including and especially on topics of corruption, health care, services, etc.
Reis noted that citizens are in danger of receiving subjective stances coming from a media market that is limited in ownership.
She explained that the problem in Bulgaria stems from the fact that little is known about who exactly is the owner of each and every media outlet, so that people are aware of who informs them. In her words, over the course of the past decade the acquisition of media by a limited number of lobbyist groups has been influencing the broadness of perspectives represented. This is said to be the case specifically when owners allow themselves to influence mdia content.
Reis stated that citizens need to be aware of who ''pays the bills'' and explained that in the US, when a person sees a TV channel and reads the news, know what to expect, and are thus able to make an informed choice.
She added that Bulgarian laws are good in themselves but they can only be implemented if a good regulatory frame is also present.
Reis reminded that Bulgaria has recorded a gradual drop in the Reporters Without Borders' Index of Press Freedom over the past several years.
Meanwhile, a survey in Bulgaria has shown that merely 1 in 6 Bulgarians believe that local media are unbiased. The US Ambassador noted that urgent measures need to be taken in order to encourage journalists to exercise their rights freely and inform the audience.
In her words, we need to preserve the source unmarred.
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