Broadcast regulator elects new head of Bulgarian National Radio

The Council for Electronic Media elected Andon Baltakov as the new director-general of public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio in a second-round vote on January 22.

The vote was held about an hour after the first-round vote saw none of the six candidates getting the minimum three out of five votes to be elected.

At the second round, after two members of CEM changed their votes, Baltakov was elected with four votes. There was one abstention.

The director-general of BNR has a term in office of three years. The January election followed CEM’s decision in October 2019 to oust Svetoslav Kostov, having elected him BNR director-general in June. Kostov was fired in connection with an incident in which BNR’s Horizont programme went off air for five hours.

At a hearing on January 20, Baltakov said that his concept for BNR was titled “Stability, Innovation, Growth”.

He was employed by BNR several years ago, before moving to the United States. He graduated from Yale University and worked for CNN and the Associated Press, most notably as a digital and strategic planning consultant.

Baltakov told the hearing that public media funding in the world was becoming increasingly unsustainable. He said that BNR should be financed with a percentage of GDP or a share of taxes collected by the National Revenue Agency, from individual and corporate taxes.

The broadcaster could develop its own revenue, he said, while adding that he did not believe that BNR should be a player in the advertising market, because this would disrupt the market equilibrium.

In other developments related to BNR on January 22, Bulgaria’s anti-corruption commission listed as among investigations it was pursuing one involving a former director-general of BNR. Allegedly, the former director-general, unnamed by the anti-corruption commission, provided a BNR car for the use of CEM “and thus secured support from the members of CEM”.

In Parliament, MPs were to vote on a request by the head of the National Audit Office to postpone the deadline for a completion of an audit of BNR from January 31 to March 10 2020. The audit, requested by the National Assembly last year, is to cover BNR’s financial management between January 1 2017 and September 30 2019.



The Sofia Globe staff

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