Telecommunications systems are owned and operated by the state. Telex service to the rest of the world improved markedly in 1982, when a new computerized telegraph exchange was put in service. By the mid-1980s, most communities were connected by telephone; telephones numbered 3.18 million in 2001. As of 2001, there were 31 AM and 63 FM radio stations and 39 television stations. In Spring 2000, the government awarded a license for the first privately owned television station with nationwide coverage to the Balkan News Corporation. All other national television stations are state-owned, though there are a number of privately operated regional stations. In 1997 there were 4.5 million radios and 3.3 million television sets.
The principal Sofia papers, with their publishers and estimated daily circulations (2002), are:
|24 Chasa||Vest Publishing House||330,000|
|Bulgarska Armiya||MInistry of Defense||30,000|
|Demokratsiya||Union of Democratic Forces||45,000|
Confederation of Independent
|Zemedelsko Zname||Agrarian People's Union||178,000|
In 2001, there were 200 Internet service providers serving about 585,000 users.
The Constitution of Bulgaria ensures freedom of speech and of the press, and the government is said to generally respect these rights. However, in September 1996, a media bill was passed that would subject the media to increased political influence by the party in power. In November of that year, the bill was deemed unconstitutional. National television and radio broadcasting remain under supervision of the National Council for Radio and Television (NCRT), a quasi-governmental body that oversees national media and regulates private broadcasters.