Bulgarian TV Apologizes for 'Mistakes" in Eco Rallies Coverage

Society | June 27, 2012, Wednesday // 20:48|  views

Protests against amendments to Bulgaria's Forestry Act erupted June 13, when people spontaneously blocked the Eagles Bridge in central Sofia. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian private TV station bTV has apologized officially for the mistakes in the coverage of the protests against a controversial set of amendments to the Forestry Act.

The legal changes, which were recently vetoed amid mounting civic pressure, substantially liberalize the statutory regime for investors planning to cut down public forests to build private sports and recreational facilities.

The amendments triggered widespread public opposition and mass protests, both by proponents and opponents of the environmental legislation.

Bulgaria's center-right GERB government has persistently argued that the new regime would benefit the country's tourism industry, while thousands of protesters have insisted that the legislation has been adopted to benefit a number of shady oligarchs and will result in overconstruction and huge environmental damage.

bTV, which failed to cover the first of the rallies against the Forestry Act amendments, was widely accused of misreporting the event under pressure from corporate interests.

On Monday, the Anonymous hacktivist group demanded a public apology by bTV for the "insinuations and manipulations" in their coverage of certain events, most notably, the protest against the controversial Forestry Act amendments.

In an official statement to the Council for Electronic Media distributed Wednesday, bTV argues that the mistakes were not deliberate but they caused understandable dissatisfaction among viewers and created a wrong impression of biased reporting of the events.

"We apologize to the viewers who felt misled and insulted. Naturally, the mistakes have been analyzed and the persons in charge have been penalized. bTV will take all necessary steps to prevent a repeat of the situation," the statement says.

The TV station highlights that the inadvertently inaccurate coverage of the rallies was abused by "certain economic, political and media circles."

bTV stresses that its administrative governing body has no impact on the professional judgment of journalists, producers and the editor in chief of its news department.

"We are aware of the responsibility bTV has to its millions of viewers...The strongest proof of bTV's impartiality remains people's trust. This is what motivates us to become even more cautious and meticulous in our work and even more demanding in terms of our professionalism," the statement concludes.

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Tags: protest, environmental activists, Forestry Act, Eagles Bridge, bTV, impartial, coverage, Council for Electronic Media, apology


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