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Bulgarian MPs Pass Stringent Media Funding Law

Critics say law will do nothing to stem oligarch Peevski’s effective control over the newspaper business.

7 November 2018

Individual and corporate donors to Bulgarian media companies will have to be identified, according to a new law that some media owners have pledged to fight.

 

The amendment to the media law was passed on 1 November, and was backed by all parties with the exception of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, The Sofia Globe writes.

 

The amendment was introduced by controversial Bulgarian media mogul Delyan Peevski (pictured), and his Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, Balkan Insight reports that distributors and media producers will be required to declare any outside financing to the Culture Ministry each year.

 

The law covers print, broadcast, and internet media companies, who must publish information about their sources of funding, whether a public body or private entity. According to Balkan Insight, individual donors must also be identified.

 

The investigative news site Bivol.bg denounced the law, pledging never to reveal information about its 2,000 individual supporters.

 

Media companies will also be obliged to disclose the name of the person responsible for its content and editorial policy, if different from the owner, the Globe says.

 

One critic of the law, Socialist deputy Anton Kutev, told parliament that it is intended to prove that Peevski does not have a monopoly over the print market.

 

While Peevski co-proposed the amendment, his own media empire will not come under scrutiny, as the amendment only applies to companies that have received funding within the last 12 months, Balkan Insight says.

 

 

  • Bulgarian newspapers are widely distrusted by the public, Balkan Insight wrote earlier this month, citing the view of the Association of European Journalists that very few papers generate a profit. Most papers refrain from criticism of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, the group said.

 

  • Earlier this year Peevski’s New Bulgarian Media Group was reported to control almost 80 percent of print media distribution, in addition to owning several newspapers. Peevski denied any direct or indirect ownership of distribution companies.

 

  • Reporters Without Borders gave Bulgaria the lowest press freedom ranking in the EU last year, citing corruption and collusion between media, politicians, and business people including Peevski.

Compiled by Orsolya Liddiard

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