The Peevski Bulgarian Media Act to be Adopted

The media law "Peevski", which provoked disputes, is about to be passed with the votes of GERB and MRF, reported. The draft law provides for the so-called "media service providers" - radio, television, newspapers, online media, to declare each year until 30 June their actual owner in a special register, "any funding received in the previous calendar year, its size and justification, including details of the person who provided the funding ".

The first and second reading changes on the law proposed by Delyan Peevsky, Yordan Tsonev, Velislava Krasteva, and Hamid Hamid include:

- To declare whether the beneficial owner holds a public position and whether a verdict has been enforced against him.

- If the person who actually controls the content of the media service and/or the editorial policy is different from the actual owner of the media service provider, this fact also must be stated in the statement.

- The initial definition of funding is extended - any free receipt of cash or property and/or any other receipt of funds, regardless of the legal form used, outside the revenues of the media service's usual activities, and bank loans.

- All contracts and their value, concluded by the media service provider in the transitional year with state or municipal institutions, companies with state or municipal participation, with political parties, as a result of public contracts, concluded advertising contracts as well as those for which funding has been received under programs of EU funds, should be public.

The media ownership and financing will become clear both through the Commercial Register and through a special register at the Ministry of Culture, which will be public.

The penalty for a media that does not submit the declaration in time or file a false one will be from BGN 10,000 to BGN 15,000, in case of a second violation - from BGN 20,000 to BGN 30,000.

The Ministry of Culture commented that it cannot check whether the nominal media owner is the same as the one who controls the editorial policy or not. From the explanations of the depositor Yordan Tsonev, it became clear that at this stage there is no mechanism to check if a declaration is false.
GERB proposed the inclusion of text restricting offshore media ownership as well. The Association of European Journalists - Bulgaria said it supports the project in principle. The organization, however, criticized the "unjustifiably high" minimum sanctions in the absence of a declaration, as well as the uncertainty how the difference between the nominal owner of the media and the "person controlling the editorial policy" will be established.

Petya Petrova

Petya Petrova is a journalist, believer, and traveler.

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