RSF: Near Monopoly on Bulgaria's Print Media Market Curious, Disturbing

Society | January 7, 2011, Friday // 19:32|  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

The latest events on Bulgaria's media market tend to create a monopoly due to the curious and disturbing purchase of a large number of titles by a new media group spearheaded by Irena Krasteva, says the head of Reporters without Borders.

"There is currently no such thing as a monopoly of information in Bulgaria, but it is true that the purchase of a large number of titles by Krasteva is disturbing. This acquisition is curious and tends to create a monopoly," Jean-Francois Julliard, General Secretary of Reporters without Borders, said in an interview for

He pointed out that the real problem is more about not knowing the people, who are really behind the capital, used for these purchases.

Asked to comment the new rules obliging Bulgarian print media to make the names of their owners public once a year, Julliard said:

"There is no transparency in the Bulgarian media. It is very difficult to identify the real identity of shareholders or those who really run the media in Bulgaria. Legislative efforts to change the situation are of course laudable and we support them. But again, the texts will only be meaningful if applied. I doubt we'll see the Bulgarian judiciary force the real owners of the media comply with any registry."

Bulgaria's print media are expected to make public the names of their owners 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 and Greece rank seventieth in the world for media freedom in 2010, while the press freedom situation in the European Union is deteriorating, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranking shows.

FULL TEXT of the interview with Jean-Francois Julliard READ HERE

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


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