Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has announced plans to launch news services in Bulgaria and Romania in a bid to strengthen the media landscape in both countries, the station said in a press release.
In both cases, it marks a return for RFE/RL: the company previously served countries across Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria and Romania, prior to their joining the European Union and NATO. Service to Bulgaria ended in 2004 and to Romania in 2008.
RFE/RL President Thomas Kent said: “We hope in particular that our coverage, carried out by local journalists, will help the growth of a free press, promote democratic values and institutions, and inform discussion in both countries of their place in NATO, the EU and other Western organizations. We look forward to partnering with local independent media and civil society.”
Government officials, civil society representatives and journalists in both countries have expressed concern that disinformation, corruption, and social division are undermining their political systems.
In the Reporters Without Borders annual Press Freedom Index released in April 2018, Bulgaria ranked lowest among European Union countries.
Beginning in December 2018, RFE/RL will provide multi-media reporting and analysis in Bulgarian and Romanian and partner with local media to amplify existing projects that promote public accountability and debunk false news.
RFE/RL already has a deep commitment to the Balkan region, with bureaus in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, fYROMacedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. It also has a Romanian-language service for Moldova…. / IBNA