Bulgarian TV broadcaster censors political cartoons

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regards the removal of 90 political cartoons by the well-known Bulgarian cartoonist Chavdar Nikolov from the Nova TV website as an unacceptable act of censorship.

Owned by Swedish media group MTG and run by a Frenchman, Didier Stoessel, Sofia-based Nova TV removed all the cartoons and an interview with Nikolov from its website on 14 April.

Nova TV said they were removed because its contract with Nikolov had ended but it seems to be a case of political censorship, coming as it did just days after the latest cartoon mocked Prime Minister Boyko Borisov for publicly supporting a group of criminals who hunt down migrants in order to send them back to Turkey.

“A media outlet’s management has a duty to maintain the editorial independence of the journalists who work for it,” RSF said. “Didier Stoessel’s claim that the cartoonist’s contract had simply ended is grotesque. The media must participate in the democratic debate, which includes this kind of cartoon. Media freedom is not a trite formula. It is incredible that media outlets must be reminded of their duty to respect it. All of Nikolov’s cartoons must be restored to the website.”

Nova TV’s censorship has sparked an outcry in Bulgaria and was immediately denounced on social networks. A demonstration was held yesterday in Sofia.

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Updated on 16.04.2016