The head of the Council for Electronic Media (CEM), the Bulgarian statutory body charged with the regulation of broadcast media, submitted his resignation on February 25 2016, saying that he would rather quit than be involved in licensing a controversial new television station.
Georgi Lozanov has headed CEM since 2010 and was a member of its predecessor body, the National Council for Radio and Television, from 1997 to 2001, and of CEM from 2001 to 2003. Lozanov’s term as head of CEM had been due to expire on April 1. His resignation will be voted on by the council on March 1.
Lozanov’s resignation followed the licensing of PIK Television being on the council’s agenda.
PIK TV is linked to a controversial eponymous website. The planned television channel is owned by Nedyalko Nedlyalkov, who has a 95 per cent share, and the editor of the PIK webiste, Ivailo Kruchunov, who has the other five per cent.
The PIK website, however, has long been perceived as close to controversial business person, large-scale media owner and Movement for Rights and Freedoms MP Delyan Peevski. The website has a record of hostile coverage of the 2013/14 anti-government protesters who demanded the resignation of the cabinet of the time after the abortive appointment of Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security. Nedyalkov is on record as denying that Peevski is behind PIK TV.
Lozanov said that he was stepping down as head and as a member of CEM because there were no legal grounds to refuse the registration of PIK TV, so he would rather leave the council than put his signature on the documents to legalise a media outlet with “the aggressive rhetoric of the eponymous online media”.
Three of the other CEM members, Anna Hadjieva, Aniuta Assenova and Ivo Atanasov, voted in favour of licensing PIK TV on the grounds that the law did not allow them to refuse. The fifth member of the council, Maria Stoyanova, did not attend the February 25 meeting because she was out of the country.
(Screenshot of Lozanov: BNT)