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Bulgaria: commercial interests instrumentalise the media

With the democratic revolution of 1989 Bulgaria's media landscape underwent a major upheaval. The strong demand for independent journalism after decades of communist repression of media freedom (1944–1989) led to the founding of numerous print media. Whereas the first independent dailies 24 Chasa and Trud are still regarded as the leading media organs, the communist successor newspaper Duma leads a shadow existence these days. The weekly Kapital and the daily Kapital Daily are regarded as quality newspapers targeting an educated readership with an interest in political and economic news.

Reflecting the increasing predominance of the Internet, a large number of online and news portals such as and have sprung up since the turn of the century. Blogs are largely ignored, however.

Protests against the election of Delyan Peevski.
(© picture-alliance/dpa)

Bulgaria ranks way below the EU average in the international press freedom index, reflecting attacks on journalists and the heavy dependence of the media on political and economic circles. Dramatic falls in print runs and decreasing advertising revenues mean that most newspapers are scarcely able to finance themselves and are dependent on sponsors. Most of Bulgaria's media are now owned by a small number of companies, whose owners are accused of instrumentalising the media for political purposes. These include the businessman and publisher of Kapital and Dnevnik, Ivo Prokopiev, and the member of parliament and media tycoon Deljan Peewski, whose New Bulgarian Media Group maintains close ties with the holders of power in Bulgaria. Peewski's appointment as head of the secret services in June 2013 triggered sustained mass protests in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria's most important television stations are foreign-owned. The private channel bTV belongs to Time Warner. Nova Televizija is part of the Swedish media concern Modern Times Group. The introduction of modern entertainment programming enabled the national private broadcasters to rapidly reduce the state television monopoly that had existed for many years. The public television channels BNT1, BNT2 and BNT HD continue to have a strong influence on public opinion, however. Bulgarian national radio and the private Darik Radio are the only national broadcasters where the spoken word (rather than music) dominates.

Press Freedom Index:

Reporters without Borders: 106th place (2015)
Freedom House: 78th place (2014)

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