Bulgaria Debates Amendment to TV and Radio Act

By Pavlina Jeleva

    SOFIA: Legal proposals to repeal restrictions to prime time advertising and product placement on Bulgarian National Television (BNT, www.bnt.bg) and Bulgarian National Radio (www.bnr.bg) have passed a first reading at the Parliament.

    BNT would be allowed to broadcast advertising spots for 12 minutes between 7 and 10 pm instead of only 5 minutes. BNT and BNR could also benefit from product placement which is now banned.

    The MP's who introduced the proposals referred to the financial difficulties of the public service broadcasting. "At the time, when the Television and Radio Act was passed, BNT was not obliged to pay for transmission network services, because the Bulgarian Telecommunication company was owned by the state. Now it is a private company and BNT must pay considerable amounts," said BNT former Director General Assen Agov, current deputy of Parliament.

    The Association of Bulgarian Broadcasters, Sofia (ABBRO, www.abbro-bg.org) uniting all commercial media in the country reacted against the legal initiative with a public statement. The Association said in a statement that the latest amendments proposals in the Television and Radio Act were "unmotivated and highly discriminatory in relation with commercial media. Advertising broadcast on the BNT should not only be limited but gradually achieve a total ban."

    The draft law will now go to the commission for further discussions, then be reintroduced into the parliament hall for second reading and a vote. No deadlines for the completion of the procedure have been announced.