Bulgarian government sets up working group on changing law on ownership and funding of media

Bulgaria’s government decided on February 28 to set up a working group to draft changes to existing legislation on the ownership, financing and distribution of the media in the country.

A statement after a regular weekly meeting of Bulgaria’s Cabinet said that the working group should propose a “clear mechanism” for disclosure of the ultimate owner of a media outlet and its sources of funding.

It should also propose which government body should decide on and apply sanctions in the event of failure by a media outlet to comply with the legislation.

It should also propose a legally acceptable way for a relevant state authority to refer to the Commission for Protection of Competition and to regulate the CPC’s obligation to periodically prepare sectoral analysis of the media market in the country, covering all media.

Should the Commission find that competition on the media market is “limited or impaired”, a mechanism to restore it should be established, the government media statement said.

The Ministers of the Economy, Finance and Culture, and “experts” appointed by them, will be included in the working group on the legislative change, according to the statement.

The government said that within 14 days of the February 28 adoption of the decision, the working group should make a “reasoned request” to the CPC “to conduct a sectoral analysis of the media market in the country, examining its characteristics and structure, the participants, the level of market concentration, the dynamics in the sector, regulation, self-regulation and to draw conclusions about the state of the competitive environment”.

Recently, controversial Movement for Rights and Freedoms MP Delyan Peevski, a major media owner in Bulgaria, spoke of tabling legislation to compel media to compel all media – print, broadcast and online – to make regular disclosures of all sources of their funding.

Critics of Peevski’s proposal said that it was intended against rival publishers who get a significant amount of their revenue from donations from foreign-backed foundations. Other criticisms included that the administration involved in regular disclosures of sources of income would be especially burdensome on smaller media outlets, making the job of journalists – in particular on independent news websites – more difficult.

(Photo: Michael Illuchine/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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