Bulgaria update: radio/TV bill vetoed


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Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 11:42:45 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Bulgaria update: radio/TV bill vetoed

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Original sender: Felix Corley <fcorley@mail.ndirect.co.uk>

Bulgaria update: radio/TV bill vetoed


IFEX- News from the international freedom of expression community
________________________________________________________________
 
ACTION ALERT UPDATE - BULGARIA
 
30 September 1998
 
President vetoes proposed radio and tv law; bill goes back to
parliament
 
SOURCE: International Press Institute (IPI), Vienna
 
**Updates IFEX alert of 2 July 1998**
 
(IPI/IFEX) - According to the International Press Institute, Bulgarian
President Petar Stoyanov vetoed a proposed radio and television law on
28 September 1998. Stoyanov sent the bill back to parliament for
further debate, as he was concerned it may fail to guarantee the
political independence of the media and could create divisions between
ethnic groups.
 
IPI had recently urged President Stoyanov to reject the bill primarily
because of the proposed composition of the seven member National Radio
and Television Council (NTRC), as the law did not ensure the political
independence of the council's members. The council has the power to
ban programmes and suspend broadcasting licences.
 
Stoyanov also rejected an article in the law which stipulated that
national radio and TV language programmes should be broadcast only in
Bulgarian, and a provision which proposed to ban advertising on
television between 7pm and 10pm.
 
IPI was encouraged by Prime Minister Kostov's reaction to the veto
when he stated that President Stoyanov's concerns were "not
unreasonable." The president's veto can be overruled by a second vote
in parliament.
 
For further information, contact IPI at Spiegelgasse 2, A-1010 Vienna,
Austria, tel: +43 1 512 90 11, fax: +43 1 512 90 14, e-mail: Michael
Kudlak at ipi.vienna@xpoint.at, or Peter Goff at info@freemedia.at,
Internet site: www.freemedia.at.
 
The information contained in this alert update is the sole
responsibility of IPI. In citing this material for broadcast or
publication, please credit IPI.
---------------------


IFEX- News from the international freedom of expression community
_________________________________________________________________

PRESS RELEASE/UPDATE - BULGARIA

25 September 1998

IPI calls on authorities to revoke penal code articles which allow
prison for libel and defamation

SOURCE: International Press Institute (IPI), Vienna

**For background, see IFEX alerts of 17 July and 28 May 1998**

(IPI/IFEX) - An International Press Institute delegation met in Sofia
with three members of parliament (MPs) from the ruling Union of
Democratic Forces Party (UDF) - Dimitar Abajiev, Ivan Dimov and Sasho
Stoyanov - to call on the Bulgarian authorities to revoke articles
within the penal code that punish journalists with imprisonment for
articles that could be considered libelous or defamatory.

IPI Director Johann P. Fritz expressed regret that the Bulgarian
constitutional court ruled on, 15 July 1998, that Articles 146, 147
and 148 (see footnote) of the penal code do not contradict the
constitution and urged the UDF Party to re-address the issue in order
to bring Bulgaria's legislation in line with its international
obligations.

IPI stressed the point that such articles belong in the civil code and
that criminalising journalistic offences has a chilling effect on the
media and so underlines democratic structures.

The IPI delegation was encouraged by the news that the entire penal
code would be re-appraised by parliament in the near future.

The MPs agreed that, at the very least, the threat of prison sanctions
should be lifted and that the state prosecutor should not be empowered
to open defamation lawsuits on behalf of public officials.

IPI sees these as encouraging concessions and is confident that enough
political support can be generated to repeal these repressive
articles.

Footnote:
Article 146 provides for six months imprisonment for "insult." while
Article 147 punishes libel with up to a one-year sentence. Article 148
permits the state prosecutor to press charges on behalf of officials
who feel they have been defamed, and provides for punishment of up to
three years imprisonment.


For further information, contact IPI at Spiegelgasse 2, A-1010 Vienna,
Austria, tel: +43 1 512 90 11, fax: +43 1 512 90 14, e-mail: Michael
Kudlak at ipi.vienna@xpoint.at, or Peter Goff at info@freemedia.at,
Internet site: www.freemedia.at.

The information contained in this update is the sole responsibility of
IPI.
In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit
IPI.

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