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Bulgarian Media Bound to Declare Owners

Date: 08.07.2010

Bulgarian media publishers will declare to the Ministry of Culture the real owners of their publications, under the amendments to the Printing and Presses Act, approved by the Parliament.

On Wednesday the Ministry of Culture announced that manufacturers and distributors, as well as publishers, will be responsible for providing the needed information.

The amendment aims at protecting the citizens right and was proposed in May by the Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov, who promised transparency and clear rules in media ownership.

The proposal 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.

Experts in political science and mass communications have been warning that Bulgarian media trends are extremely alarming.

The pressure on Bulgarian media continues, both political and economic, leading to journalism's self-censorship, experts say. Their findings have been confirmed by the Assembly of the Council of Europe and the study of Freedom House, which ranks Bulgarian media 76th from a total of 196 countries by media freedom.

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 eyeing the two dailies with the highest circulation in the country – Trud and 24 Hours.

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