Bulgaria Print Media Pressed to Shed Light on Owners

Society | January 4, 2011, Tuesday // 13:48|  views

The latest developments on Bulgaria's media market have led to a near monopoly by a new media group spearheaded by Irena Krasteva (pictured), former head of the Bulgarian State Lottary. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Bulgaria's print media are expected to make public the names of their owners this month as obliged under legislation that the country's parliament adopted last year.

The new rule came in response to demands by the Union of Publishers in Bulgaria, who sounded an alarm over the lack of clarity in the ownership and financing of part of the media in the country, which in their words undermine the market.

The publishers proposed that registration of printed media owners become obligatory, an idea that Prime Minister Boyko Borisov enthusiastically embraced.

The new regulation however does not apply for electronic media and critics have attacked legislators for simply pretending to address the issue, while actually steering clear of putting pressure on the really influential media.

The latest developments on the media market have led to a near monopoly by a new media group spearheaded by Irena Krasteva, former head of the Bulgarian State Lottary.

"New Bulgarian Media Group" owns BBT TV channel, Weekend Weekly, Monitor Daily, the Telegraf Daily, the Politika Weekly, and the local Veliko Turnovo daily "Borba", the local Plovdiv daily "Maritsa".

Most of these newspapers were bought by Krasteva in the summer of 2007, the total purchases amounting to over BGN 10 M.

At the end of 2008, the company also acquired TV7 EAD, and the newspaper Express.

Recent reports have suggested that the media tycoon is behind the sale of the two dailies with the highest circulation in the country – Trud and 24 Hours.

Bulgaria is one of Europe's most repressive countries towards journalists and the press freedom situation in it is continually deteriorating as media are bullied into silence, according to media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Bulgaria and Greece rank seventieth in the world for media freedom in 2010, while the press freedom situation in the European Union is deteriorating, the watchdog ranking shows.

Foreign experts in political science and mass communications have repeatedly warned that Bulgarian media trends are extremely alarming, primarily because the financing of the media is very unclear.

They say economic interests are taking the upper hand on the local media market as there are lobbies and thousands of people with links to the mafia, who don't want the journalists to shed light on their criminal activities.

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Tags: journalists, World Press Freedom Index, Jean-Fran?ois Julliard, Bulgaria, media, press, newspapers, Reporters without Borders, europe, freedom, Irena Krasteva


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