Status: Free
Legal Environment: 10
Political Influences: 8
Economic Pressures: 12
Total Score: 30

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 72
Religious Groups: Bulgarian Orthodox (83.8 percent), Muslim (12.1 percent), other (4.1 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Bulgarian (83.6 percent), Turk (9.5 percent), Roma [Gypsy] (4.6 percent), other (2.3 percent)
Capital: Sofia

Although the press remains lively and diverse, press freedom declined for a second year as a result of continued government efforts to influence state and private media. Libel is a criminal offense and carries substantial fines. After taking power in 2001, the government of Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski expanded upon the previous government's practice of official interference in the operations of print and broadcast media. In October, parliament removed the director of the state news agency for an alleged lack of loyalty to the new ruling party. A similar shake-up had occurred at the state television network in December 2001. Later in the year, the prime minister's office announced that monthly press briefings would be closed to all but four radio and television stations, two of which would be state-run outlets. While the government directed advertising revenue to friendly media, financial pressures forced the closing of the opposition daily Demokratsiya. Political appointees to the new Electronic Media Council (EMC) will now oversee programming and issue broadcast licenses. The Council of Europe has expressed concern that the EMC could further weaken the editorial independence of state television and radio.

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