Broadcast regulator fines Bulgarian National Radio 27 000 leva over suspension of programme

Statutory broadcast regulator the Council for Electronic Media (CEM) has fined public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio 27 000 leva (about 13 800 euro) over an incident in which the popular Horizont programme went off air for five hours on September 13.

The fine includes 7000 leva for BNR breaching its licence tems and 20 000 leva for violating the legal obligation guaranteeing the public right to information, BNR reported on October 2.

The announcement of the CEM decision comes a few days after it unanimously called on BNR director-general Svetoslav Kostov to submit his resignation.

CEM gave Kostov, whom it had appointed to head BNR three months earlier, a week to submit his resignation, failing which it will initiate a formal procedure to oust him. Kostov has said that he will not submit his resignation, and earlier threatened court action against his critics.

BNR management had said that the five-hour absence of Horizont from the air on September 13 was because of essential technical maintenance. A subsequent investigation, led by prosecutors and involving several state institutions, established that this was not true.

The suspension of broadcasting of Horizont has been linked to an attempt to remove from the airwaves veteran journalist Sylvia Velikova, allegedly because of her open opposition to the nomination of Ivan Geshev to be Bulgaria’s next Prosecutor-General. Following intervention by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, Velikova was reinstated.

The Horizont episode has been a major political row in Bulgaria, over allegations of illicit external interference in BNR’s journalism, while at the request of Parliament, the National Audit Office is now investigating BNR.

At a CEM meeting on October 2, the draft budgets for next year for BNR and public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television were discussed, but no decisions were made because council members needed “more information”, BNR reported.

(Photo: pixabay)



The Sofia Globe staff

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