Bulgarians feel badly informed by media and politicians

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Representative survey on behalf of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung shows crisis of confidence in media and political communication

59 percent of the population of Bulgaria do not consider the media to be independent. Many are undecided and only 17 percent believe reporting is free. The crisis of confidence in the media is continuing, according to a study on behalf of the KAS Media Program South East Europe. Citizens also feel they are inadequately informed by the politicians. 63 percent take a negative view of politicians’ public relations. A representative sample of 1,100 residents aged 18 and over was interviewed.

For years the Bulgarian media have had a bad reputation. Criticism is expressed of monopolisation in the newspaper sector, absent or inefficient legal operating conditions and not very effective self-regulation of the print media. For the second time in succession, the KAS Media Program South East Europe has commissioned a representative survey of opinion to measure the extent of the crisis of confidence. The result: only one in six of the citizens believes in the independence of the media (data gathered, December 2014). This hardly differs from the previous year. In December 2013, 14 percent of people interviewed thought the media were free. The differences are not statistically significant.

Television is the most trusted medium

Despite the progress made in extension of the Internet, television is still the number one medium for broad sections of the population. For three quarters (74 percent) of Bulgarians it is the preferred source of informaton about politics. Here, only 14 percent mention the Web and 3 percent, the newspapers. Asked which type of media source they "trust most", more people similarly name television (60 percent) than other media (Internet 14, newspapers and radio, 3 percent). Relatively, the younger generation of those aged up to 34 has the greatest trust in online media (at 33 percent); as expected, the elderly have the least trust in the Internet.

The journalistic quality of the television is also rated much higher than for online and print media. Thus, 77 percent say that television helps them to understand politics and the economy. Only 17 percent say this about newspapers, although as a rule print and online media based on text are better able to present complex themes. Television is also considered more objective. The newspapers have lost credibility through campaigning journalism. In addition, many people trust pictures more than words. The role of newspapers in the media mix is not as influential as in Germany, and high TV consumption leads to a more positive view of television.

Bulgarians distrust quality of online media

Compared with the previous year, Bulgarian online media have lost popularity – in regard to trust and objectivity as well as political relevance, by about six percent in each case. This is to be interpreted by the fact that journalistic quality assurance on the Net is regarded as problematic. Admittedly, some portals are regarded as important additional sources of information and some news pages can, in fact, act more independently than conventional media. But thorough verification of information is far from standard practice: lax regard for intellectual property rights and a correspondingly free manner of quotation are widespread on the Web.

Read more in the country report.

Author

Christian Spahr

Publication series

Country Reports

published

Bulgaria, February 3, 2015