Bulgaria’s broadcast regulator, the Council for Electronic Media, on May 17 named Alexander Velev as the new director-general of public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).
Velev was chosen from among 12 candidates, getting the votes of all five members of the council in a two-stage vote.
Born in 1963, Velev attended the German Language School in Sofia, and graduated in economics from the University of National and World Economy and in journalism. He joined BNR in 1990, where he worked as an international editor and as a presenter of news and variety shows.
Dismissed from BNR in 1995 at the time of a Bulgarian Socialist Party government, he worked for a Bulgarian-language newspaper, Novinar, and then for Radio Tangra, Radio FM+ and Darik Radio, consecutively, before becoming spokesperson for the Promyana (“Change”) trade union. In 1997, he won court action for reinstatement to BNR, becoming director of its Horizon actuality programme, and then its correspondent in Skopje. He was elected director-general of BNR in January 1998.
During public hearings of candidates by CEM, Velev said he wanted to rebuild BNR’s network of correspondents and thus compete with national television stations, which over the years had taken away radio’s audience with their morning political talk shows.
Velev said that he would reduce the number of programmes of Radio Bulgaria, saying that only Romanian radio broadcasts in more languages. He said that Radio Bulgaria was a continuation of a propaganda arm founded before 1990, and therefore could not continue in that way.
He said that he would discuss with the Presidency, the Foreign Ministry and other government and non-government bodies to clarify in how many languages Radio Bulgaria should broadcast.
Responding to a long-discussed idea of merging the two public broadcasters, BNR and Bulgarian National Television, Velev said that this would result in BNR being ranked second in importance to BNT.
He said that he wanted to create a single night programme for all BNR programmes, so as to not waste the money of taxpayers, given that at the moment, most of the different night-time programmes have a listenership of zero.
To attract a younger audience, he proposed that BNR should launch a mobile app for smartphones.