PRESS STATEMENT- European newspaper and news media publishers raise serious concerns over allegations of state abuse of power against the press in Bulgaria

 

Brussels, 29th January 2015 - The Union of Publishers in Bulgaria (UBP) has brought to ENPA’s attention a potential abuse of power by the Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) in Bulgaria, which has invoked legislation against market manipulation to impose heavy fines on the Economedia publishing house, and on the small regional press publishing and media company, Alpiko Publishing. In addition to the fines imposed on Economedia totaling BGN 160,000 (approx. EUR 82,000) and Alpiko Publishing amounting to BGN 100,000 (approx. EUR 50,000), the FSC has also started sanction proceedings against two other media outlets, Bivol website and Mediapool.bg.

 

According to the Union of Publishers in Bulgaria, the FSC imposed fines even though these infringements had not taken place. Instead the FSC sanctions were in response

to the publication of articles critical of the Regulator and of the practices of certain players in the financial market, as well as the refusal of journalists working in Economedia to disclose their sources of information.

 

This development is unprecedented in Bulgaria as the FSC has never before penalised media outlets for alleged market manipulation or imposed such a high level of fines. UBP underlines that the imposed fines are not intended to protect the investors and issuers of securities since the financial market has not been compromised at all as a result of the publications. Instead this is an attempt to suppress media voices that are critical of the operation of the Regulator and to prevent journalists from investigating suspected abuses in the non-banking sector in

Bulgaria.

 

ENPA, representing publishers of newspapers and news media in Europe, therefore supports UBP’s urgent call to condemn this persistent and repeated interference with press freedom in Bulgaria. ENPA underlines that the EU Market Abuse Regulation (No 596/2014) expressly refers to and respects the rules governing the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression in other media, as well as the rules or codes governing the journalistic profession, in respect of Article 11 of the Charter for Fundamental Rights.

 

For further information:

 

Sophie Scrive

Deputy Executive Director

ENPA–European Newspaper Publishers’ Association

Mail: sophie.scrive@enpa.be

Tel: +32 2 551 01 90