Bulgaria Anti-Trust Watchdog to Probe Print Media Market

Business | August 11, 2011, Thursday // 15:39|  views

File photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Bulgaria's anti-trust commission will launch a probe into a possible newspaper monopoly, the first of its kind in the country.

The news comes shortly after the purchase of a large number of titles by media mogul Irena Krasteva and the recent squabbles over ownership of the WAZ assets in Bulgaria – the first ever monopolist on the local media market, dating back to the 90s - left a bitter taste in the mouth of the audience.

The beginning of August saw the latest development on the market and the monopoly expansion - top Bulgarian daily Standart was bought by the controversial New Bulgarian Media Group, headed by Krasteva.

New Bulgarian Media Group owns the national BBT TV channel, the Telegraf daily, Weekend weekly, Monitor daily, Politika weekly, the newly-created Vseki Den daily, as well as the local Veliko Tarnovo daily Borba and the Plovdiv daily Maritsa. (Telegraf and Weekend are the highest-circulation daily and weekly in Bulgaria.)

Apart from the concentration of media in its hands, the New Bulgarian Media Group has been criticised for an apparent lack of clarity as to the provenance of its assets.

The deals are suspected to show that shady figures can afford to buy back shares in large numbers or artificially prop up loss-making titles not because this is economically profitable.

They are tempted by the prospect of using the media for money laundering or for promoting other economic activities from public tenders, public works, mobile telephony, energy, tourism, etc.

The investments are made with the sole goal of turning the media into a tool for communication or pressure, opponents say.

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Tags: GM Press, Slavka Bozukova, Tsvetan Vasilev, Delyan Peevski, Irena Krasteva, Standart, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Todor Batkov, Corporate Commercial Bank, New Bulgarian Media Group, Bulgaria, Bulgarian, media, newspaper


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