Media Freedom Report Singles out Bulgaria, Macedonia

Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index for 2016, released on Wednesday, highlights a worrying situation in some Balkan countries, especially Bulgaria and Macedonia.

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Illustration : Reporters Without Borders – Press Freedom Index 2016

Reporters Without Borders, which advocates for media freedom and protection of journalists’ rights around the world, on Wednesday released its 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

It ranks press freedom in 180 countries using the following criteria – pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative environment, transparency, infrastructures and abuses.

According to the report, media freedom is threatened everywhere. “There has been a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and the regional level,” it says.
The trend is confirmed also in Europe and in the Balkans where media freedom has “declined … because of the growing influence of extremist movements and ultraconservative governments”.

Countries in the Balkans moved up and down in the report, compared to the previous year. In terms of the region, Romania ranked best in in 49th place, up three places on the previous year. Serbia came second, ranked in 59th place, up eight places, while Croatia came third, ranked in 63rd place, down five places.

Of the rest, Bosnia ranked 68th, down two, Albania ranked 82nd – the same as before – Montenegro ranked 106th, up eight, Bulgaria ranked 113th, down seven places while Macedonia came at the bottom of the list in 118th place, down one. Kosovo was not on the list.

The report explicitly mentioned the situation in Bulgaria, “which has the EU lowest ranking [and where] politicians and interest groups control most of the media”, the report said. It also mentioned Macedonia, where “selective allocation of state advertising was used to control and gag the media”.

In Croatia and Serbia, “physical violence was reported … and journalist were taken hostage or were the targets of petrol bombs”, the report said.

Balkan Insight

20 April 2016