The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe expressed concerned over large fines imposed on newspapers in Bulgaria for publishing stories on the banking sector and financial activities of businesses.
Speaking in Vienna Wednesday, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said that “large fines imposed on media outlets may lead to censorship in reporting on issues of public interest.”
In January, the Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) imposed a fine of about $57,000 on Alpico Publishing and its online newspaper zovnews.com for reporting on the banking sector.
Also in January, the FSC fined the Economedia group over $90,000 for stories published last summer on financial activities of companies. The FSC labelled the news stories in the publications Capital and Dnevnik as market manipulations and fined the newspapers an additional $5,000 for refusing to disclose sources.
OSCE has called on Bulgaria to create laws protecting media from being forced to display sources as a way to guarantee the public's access to information.