The Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) has fined public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio over the five-hour silencing of the Horizont programme on September 13, becoming the second regulatory body to do so.
The size of the fine imposed by the CRC was not announced, but the regulator said in a media statement that the law provided for fines ranging from 10 000 to 100 000 leva (about 5000 to 50 000 euro).
BNR’s Horizont, among Bulgaria’s most listened-to radio programmes, went off the air for an unprecedented five hours on September 13, with BNR management saying that this was because of technical maintenance.
An investigation by a number of state bodies, including the State Agency for National Security and the CRC, established that technical maintenance was not the reason the station was off the air.
The episode has been linked to an attempt to dismiss veteran journalist Sylvia Velikova from the airwaves, a move that led to outrage. The matter subsequently was investigated in a probe led by prosecutors, and the Council for Electronic Media, the body charged by statute with regulating broadcasters, fined BNR and referred to prosecutors the allegations of illicit outside pressure on the radio station.