An investigation has established that claims that technical reasons were why Bulgarian National Radio’s Horizont programme went off air for five hours on September 13 are not true, the Prosecutor’s Office said on September 17.
The investigation was carried out by, among others, the State Agency for National Security (SANS), Communications Regulatory Commission and the Council for Electronic Media.
It was ordered after Horizont, a top-rated programme on Bulgaria’s public broadcaster radio station, fell silent between 6am and 11am on Friday.
Reports linked the episode to controversy over the reassignment from Horizont of veteran journalit Sylvia Velikova, but BNR management has said that the programme had been off the air because of technical maintenance.
The findings announced by the Prosecutor’s Office recommended a follow-up against only one individual – the head of BNR’s technical department. Evidence has been forwarded to the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office of malfeasance in office, the Prosecutor’s Office statement said.
The statement said that SANS had taken written statements from BNR director-general Svetoslav Kostov, Nikolai Krastev (who had been appointed acting head of Horizont on September 12 and resigned from that post on September 13 amid the furore over Velikova), the head of the technical department, Plamen Kostov, and other BNR employees.
SANS also had received information from radio signal distributor NURTS and had examined written and electronic communications among BNR staff and between them and NURTS.
The SANS investigation had established that no technical maintenance of the Horizont programme studio complex had been carried, there was no technical problem requiring such maintenance and there were no technical or other problems preventing signal transmission.
The Council for Electronic Media had not been notified of the suspension of the Horizont programe.
BNR had failed to fulfil its statutory obligation to broadcast continuously, which was a violation of its licence, the statement said.
The Horizont incident on September 13 has been at the core of a political row since Friday, with critics claiming it to be a sign of an erosion of media freedom, while Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, who says he defended Velikova, has said that the episode was a “sabotage against the government”.