UBJ Statement: The unauthorized media situation requires urgent actions

02.09.2018 /17:38 | Източник: UBJ Големина на шрифт: a a    Отпечатай:

The UBJ Managing Board urges a response on the following questions: are the deputees of the Parlamentary Culture and Media Commission aware of the proposals made by our Union since more than an year ago on legislative changes concerning the defense of the journalism and a transparent media environment? Why no proposals have been made so far in that direction?

The non-governmental, public, professional, creative, trade union and other kind of civil organizations and movements are a key component of any democratic state. And the response on the side of the “power structures” to their views and demands in favor of public interest, is a sign of the level of democracy.

The UBJ Managing Board recalls this alphabetical truth because it did not received no such response - for more than an year - of its proposals for legislative changes to protect journalism and for a transparent media environment, submitted to the Parlamentary Commission of Culture and Media on 16 June 2017. 

The only thing we received at the end of July was a letter from the Chairman of the Commission Mr. Vezhdi Rashidov, who informed us that "…according to Art. 87, para 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, each MP and the Council of Ministers have the right to legislative initiative …". Moreover, "…the proposals of the Union of Bulgarian journalists were sent to the representatives of the culture and the media".

We insist to receive an answer to the question are the Commission-members really aware of our proposals and, if so, why did not any of them been involved for more than a year? Does this neglect the Union of Bulgarian Journalists role in the democratic society? Or the media situation in Bulgaria seems to MPs so seamless, that they do not consider our initiatives in this scope to be urgent and important?

It is clear and painfully tangible to every Bulgarian citizen that the media environment in our country is just “poisonous” - both for the working people and for the whole society, and the collapse in the level of freedom of speech and opinions is catastrophic. Over the past year examples of ever more dramatic violations against journalistic rights and ethical norms were alternating, opaque media possession and management, coupled with corporate and political dependencies.

Such media environment is intolerable and changes requires urgent action by the legislature to trigger appropriate legislative decisions, strictly in line with democratic norms. The members of the Parlamentary Commission on Culture and Media have such legal proposals - submitted by the Managing Board of the SBJ. Why are they still without any response?

How and why, in the meanwhile, it was initiated and voted on the “first reading” another media project, almost an year after the UBJ initiatives? This project has been proposed by MPs from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and gaining popularity as the "Peevsky law"? A project that many public reactions have already defined, that intends only to serve the interests of a media groups and to attack another, without putting the subject of journalistic rights and guarantees at all, without providing real transparency in media ownership and their governance.

The UBJ also wants to receive an answer as to what specific action the MPs of the Culture and Media Commission have taken to solve the numerous crisis situations in the media environment in the past year.

Have they followed, for example, the development of the case with Radio Bulgaria as a part of the Bulgarian National Radio, which last year was on the verge of closing down by the idea of ​​the Director General of BNR? Let us remind - The UBJ Managing Board has submitted its proposals for legislative ammendments to the Chairman of the Committee on Culture and Media on 15 June last yea, during a disscussion, dedicated to the case of Radio Bulgaria.

The MPs then took the clear view that this unique structure, which presents our country to the world of foreign languages, must be preserved and developed. The Director-General of the Bulgarian National Radio accordingly made a number of commitments to this effect.

Is there any interest on the side of the Culture and Media Commission members as well as on other serious tensions in the BNR in the meantime - the crises with the payments to Musikautathor, the protests of the music groups, the personnel intervention in the Children Radio-chor, the re-elimination of the radio journalist Lili Marinkova and the fact that now the BNR owes her 15,000 BGN compensation under a court order, etc.?

Are the members of the Culture and Media Commission be aware of the dismissal of TV journalist Luba Kallezich from BIT television and of the removal of Nova TV the journalist Milen Tsvetkov, as well as the words of Mr. Delyan Peevsky in front of bTV for "cleaning" journalists like Svetoslav Ivanov? 

Don”t they see any violation of the freedom of speech in the increasing number of lawsuits of politicians, party functionaries and officials against individual journalists and entire media that allowed sharp criticism? The Editor-in-Chief of Duma newspaper - a well-respected professor, respected by the entire journalistic community, was just inadmissed and the newspaper and journalists were offended, humiliated and threatened.

What kind of resonance are the repatriation of journalists from the Standart newspaper, which did not receive their salaries since two years? More recently, the same fate has happened to journalists from other media. And the unprecedented dismissal of 1/3 of the journalists from the “Zemja” newspaper? And the "restructuring" of the Municipal radio station in Pleven, which leads to the transfer of its management to a private structure located in Sofia, thus eliminating its specific character of regional media in the public interest? 

All this facts and examples are only a part of the increasing number of violation against journalistic rights and media freedom that hit the whole of society and the edges of democracy. In the hands of no other, but in the hands of the deputees of the Parliament is the task to change this ugly and humiliating picture. There is also the tool already developed and proposed by the UBJ.

Just go ahead with our suggestions, ladies and gentlemen!

UBJ Managing Board
Sofia, August 31, 2018


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