International organisations bemoan record fines against Bulgarian media
The record lawsuit of €500,000 against news and investigative website Mediapool was harshly criticised by Reporters Without Borders and the Balkan Free Media Initiative as a threat to media freedom.
The insurance company Lev Ins is suing Mediapool for BGN 1 million (€500,000), arguing that the company felt affected by an article based on a transcript of a meeting of the Council of Ministers.
“Bulgarian media outlet Mediapool is facing a record lawsuit worth half a million euros filed by an insurance company. The lawsuit, known as a SLAPP, alleges that the news site was responsible for damaging the insurance company’s reputation by publishing information from a publicly available transcript. The case is being heard in the Sofia City Court, and it is to be seen what the outcome will be for this controversial lawsuit,” says the position of BFMI.
The Bulgarian office of the Association of European Journalists also called on “Lev Ins”, the company filing the suit, to withdraw it.
“The claim of the Lev Ins insurance company against Mediapool for BGN 1 million is a classic example of a ‘SLAPP’ case – a strategic case to limit public participation,” their position says.
“It is absurd for a media outlet to be sued for quoting a minister’s statement by referring to an official transcript. The amount of the claim – BGN 1 million – is also inadmissible. The company’s actions suggest that their goal is that the media and journalists should be refused to deal with the insurer at all, facing the risk of being sued for the colossal amount of BGN 1 million,” commented AEJ-Bulgaria.
The article discusses an important issue for millions of Bulgarians regarding paying debts to Bulgarian insurers under the “Green Card” system and the consequences if the problem is not resolved. Bulgaria’s issues with the “Green Card” are one of the reasons the country temporarily refused to adopt the necessary legislation that would open its way to the Eurozone.
The executive director of “Lev Ins”, Pavel Dimitrov told Bulgarian National Radio that the title of the publication “aims to cause fear and serious concern among Bulgarian citizens, citing “Lev Ins” as a company that has not paid its obligations”.
(Antonia Kotseva | EURACTIV.bg)