At 17:30 CET on Tuesday the 21st of June 2016, The Red House hosted a discussion looking at the pitfalls of untransparent media ownership and secret dependencies
You can access a full-length, Bulgarian-language recording of the debate here and English-language video highlights will be produced and uploaded to this page in the near future.
One of the biggest challenges facing freedom of expression in the Bulgarian context is the unclear ownership of many media outlets. The financial dependencies of many Bulgarian media platforms and their conversion into tools for discrediting opponents has led to a sharp decline in the standard of the media scene. This has been reflected in various indices on the state of freedom of speech and press freedoms, with Bulgaria’s standing plummeting in the past decade.
Typically, the decline of the Bulgarian media scene has been characterised by the tabloidisation of the press, by a rise in infotainment broadcasting and in the transformation of many media outlets into quasi-political actors. Therefore, this debate looked both at whether the financial dependence of private media outlets risks transforming journalists into pawns in the hands of political and corporate monopolies and at how this whole environment encourages low quality journalism.
The panel’s analysts focussed on the traps which await media outlets in hidden financial dependencies. What has happened since the bankruptcy of the Corporate Commercial Bank? What are the implications of eradicating the difference between criticism and and blackmail and shaming? How do media monopolies come about and how are they maintained? How much difference is there between poor quality and sloppy journalism and censorship in terms of its impact upon the information in circulation? And, how are falling journalistic standards becoming a threat to media freedoms and the right of citizens to be informed?
If you missed the live stream, then you can access the full-length, Bulgarian-language recording of the debate here. English-language video highlights of the debate will also be produced and uploaded to this page in the near future.
Tihomir Bezlov is a leading expert in criminal research and a senior analyst at the Centre for the Study of Democracy.
Nikoleta Daskalova is a media studies researcher and the coordinator of the Media Monitoring Lab at the Media Democracy Foundation in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Nikolay Stajkov is a former journalist and the founder of Chitalishte.to and the protest network movement Protestna mrezha.
This debate took place with the support of the European Union's Europe for Citizens Programme and is one debate of many taking place as part of an international series of debates on the same themes in cities around Europe, including Barcelona, Bratislava, Brussels, London, Sofia and Warsaw.
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