February 1, 2013
Several media and the Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria point out to the fact that the Bulgarian government distributes in a non-transparent way to selected media €14 million of EU funds aimed at advertising its operational programs.
A friend of mine working in a big Sofia daily told me that their media has obtained some of this funding. Ever since, he told me, the chief editor is scrutinizing all texts and censoring every possible article, which could be seen as critical against the government. Parlaimentary elections are due in summer.
Another way to ‘bribe’ the media came recently to light with the uncovering of the story of the “Broadcaster of sexually explicit content selected for EU funding”.
Actually it’s not only Payner Media, who provide the concerts during Borissov’s election campaign who gets bribed with EU money. There is a whole range of programs in the prime time of major televisions that get money according to the same scheme: TV show ‘Goreshto’ (Hot) of Veneta Raikova, TV show ‘Otechestven Front’ of Martin Karbovski, TV show “Komitsite” (The Comedians), TV show “Mejdinna stantsiya” (Intermediaty station) of producers Ivan and Andrey, TV show “Gospodari na efira” (a franchise of Italian TV show “Striscia la Notizia”) etc.
In addition of the EU money, these private programs receive co-financing from the state budget. The logical question arises: what do they commit in exchange? What is obvious is that all programs mentioned portray Boyko Borissov as Superman and Santa Claus all in one.
All TV stations yesterday had the same lead: a visit to Borissov to a village where he made promises to release many millions of EU funds to agricultural producers. It is also the lead of many newspapers such as the daily Trud.
The Association of European Journalists asks the government to disclose how much money from the state budget and EU funds have been allocated to the media in the last four years, specifying exactly which media have benefited from these funds for which services and how they have been selected.
Also, given the suspicion that ne bank, namely the Corporatе Commercial Bank owns or controls a major part of the Bulgarian media, the Association calls on the government to publish updated statistics on its deposits in different banks.
Media ownership in Bulgaria is completely opaque. What most people assume is that the Government gives preference to the Corporate Commercial Bank for running the administrative operations of the taxpayers, and in exchange the media owned by CCB pay lip service to Borissov. As simple as that.
The question is: will the Commission look into the way EU money is used in Bulgaria?