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Bulgaria: Trust in Media Is Still Low

Opinion poll of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and "Alpha Research" on media freedom in Bulgaria and trust in international institutions and states

Almost two thirds of Bulgarians are convinced that the media in their country are not reporting independently. Moreover, only every tenth describes journalists as trustworthy. The EU and Germany enjoy the highest institutional confidence. These are the main results of a national representative survey commissioned by the Media Programme South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS).

No Changes Concerning Media Freedom in Bulgaria

Still only 10 percent of Bulgarians believe in independent reporting in their country – thereby, the low value from the previous year is confirmed. Besides that, the majority of respondents (63 percent) state that the press is dependent. Trust in the journalists is also low. Only nine percent of respondents think that they are credible. "For an EU Member State such low results are alarming," says Hendrik Sittig, Head of the KAS Media Programme South East Europe. "Media can only fulfil their observer and controlling role in a democracy, if they work independently from politics and business. Only then the trust in reporting can be increased again."

TV Is Most Used and Trusted Source of Information

Concerning the media usage, TV might has lost slightly in popularity. However, it is still by far ahead of other media with 83 percent. Online news portals have increased to 28 percent. Social networks and print media (each 21 percent) and radio (19 percent) follow. Websites of public institutions and non-governmental organisations are pretty much not used at all as a source of information. Regarding the age there is a similar picture as in other countries. The younger generation watches less TV and compared to the general public uses more online media.

In terms of confidence, TV is also ahead. 60 percent of Bulgarians trust TV news. Well behind are online news, social media, print media and radio.

The distribution of false information still plays a huge role. The majority of respondents think that they are mostly spread by print media (37 percent) and social networks (35 percent).

People Place the Most Trust in the EU

In respect of trust in institutions and states, there are hardly any changes from the previous year. The EU still enjoys the highest confidence. However, it has fallen slightly to 34 percent. NATO has also received a decline of trust (now 21 percent). Concerning the confidence in states, Germany is with 30 percent marginally ahead of Russia (27 percent). The USA are even only trusted by eight percent.

The Bulgarian institute "Alpha Research" conducted the opinion poll. The sample (1,027 interviewees) is nationally representative. The results were presented during a public discussion on "How can citizens’ trust in media and politics be regained?" in Sofia on 21st November 2018. Speakers at the panel discussion, which was organised by the KAS Media Programme South East Europe, were Neli Dineva, Researcher at "Alpha Research", Irina Nedeva, Chairperson of the Association of the European Journalists in Bulgaria, and Orlin Spassov, Executive Director at the Foundation Media Democracy.

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