Bulgaria: Sofia Municipality intends to fight ‘visual noise’

Written by on January 28, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgaria: Sofia Municipality intends to fight ‘visual noise’

At the intersection of Pencho Slaveikov and Praga boulevards, in the centre of Sofia, a huge billboard suddenly appeared in 2006, when today’s Prime Minister Boiko Borissov was mayor of the city. That heavy billboard frame was about 10 metres high and held by a huge stand, which slashed the space for pedestrians in half.

Back then, the municipality did not care. Neither did those who cashed in. The pre-EU times were wild. Anything was ok, as long as someone earned money. Pedestrians? They could still walk on the other side of the street or go back home, right? Who cares about parents with strollers?

Twelve years later, today’s Sofia Municipality wants to correct those mistakes. Billboards like that one are now “visual noise”.

Bulgarian National Television reported, Sofia’s Chief Architect Zdravko Zdravkov wanted to “reduce the aggressive invasion of advertising elements”. The Municipality promised to remove illegal billboards, installed without permission.

This coming week, two big billboards on Boulevard Todor Alexandrov will be removed. According to Ivo Penev, the Head of Advertising Control at the Sofia Inspectorate, the authorities do not know the legal basis on which some of the billboards in Sofia were installed in the first place.

A billboard in the centre of Sofia. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

There are rules about the installation of billboards. Apart from permissions and registrations, the owners have to make sure the minimum distance between billboards is being kept. Those depend on the kind of street or road they are placed on.

At Sofia Municipality, there is talk about completely banning roof advertising. Indeed slogans like “I’m Loving It!” are installed on big roof billboards in many parts of Sofia. It took a long time until the Municipality came to the conclusion that they change and disturb the urban image.

War will also be waged against advertisers who plaster the entire city with their ads on posters. At this stage, those responsible were warned and given 15 days to remove them. In future, they will have three days only.

But at this stage, in the middle of yet another air pollution crisis, the residents of Sofia are confronted with a far bigger problem than illegal billboards. They want to breathe healthy air.

Photo at top of page by Imanuel Marcus.

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