Borissov dragged into fake news about PeevskiMonitor News Agency , Sofia
The shadowy power players in Bulgaria have shown yet again that their shamelessness knows no bounds. This time, in order to concoct the latest fake news against our publisher, MP Delyan Peevski, the oligarchs and their media of the Fake News Factory went to the absurd extreme of tampering with PM Boyko Borissov’s interview on bTV’s Slavi Trifonov Show aired on Wednesday night. Obviously they count on people not having watched the show.
The battering ram of this slandering campaign is the website OFFnews, which put words in the prime minister’s mouth by insinuating that he described Peevski as an oligarch. The article’s headline, “Borisov to Slavi: Every oligarch has a media outlet, Peevski has a 5% share,” conflates two completely unrelated remarks, taken out of context, in a blatant attempt to manipulate the public. Not only did the premier not insinuate such a thing, as you can see for yourself (see textbox), but he did the exact opposite – Borissov shot down with facts a series of talking points spread by the Fake News Factory against the lawmaker. First, he explained that the media bill introduced to parliament by Peevski and his fellow Movement for Rights and Freedoms legislators Hamid Hamid, Yordan Tsonev and Velislava Krasteva is designed to shed light on media ownership in Bulgaria, something no one has objection to. Then, the premier made it clear that Peevski owns a negligible percentage of the country’s media. In doing so, Borissov not only drew a clear line of demarcation between Peevski as a publisher and the media-owning oligarchs but in effect confirmed that Peevski is the only one fighting against the behind-the-scenes clique, which is determined to manipulate the public’s opinion with sponsored articles. This is an undeniable truth, backed by the hundreds of investigations of the Bulgarian oligarchy that have been done by the newspapers Telegraph and Monitor over the years.
Talking points and not facts are what matters to the Fake News Factory, however, and OFFnews provided the latest evidence, twisting the prime minister’s words to suit the theses of the Capital circle and his indicted owner Ivo Prokopiev and the other oligarchic publishers Sasho Donchev and Ognyan Donev. It is Prokopiev and Donev who should see themselves in Borissov’s remark that “every oligarch… has their own media outlet”. In fact, Donev created a website after he was charged in the ongoing case against him. Prokopiev, who is a defendant in the EVN case and a separate one for money laundering related to the mining company Kaolin, is trying to make people believe that he is under the justice system’s scrutiny because he is a publisher. Of course, this deception is exposed neither by OFFnews nor by Club Z, or any of the other cogs of the slandering machine assembled by the oligarchs, for that matter.
And to clear up the air completely, let us paint the picture of the media market in Bulgaria. According to the National Statistical Institute’s data for 2017, the print media in the country numbers 245 publications. This includes 37 daily newspapers, with only four of those being part of Telegraph Media, the media group owned by Delyan Peevski. A report by the Commission for Protection of Competition, the two leading networks, bTV and Nova Television (whose mainstream Prokopiev notoriously said, as revealed by the ARGO-gate records, he controls thanks to key faces on their air), account for a market share of 95%. Only 5% of the market is taken by the print media. Simple math shows that if those 37 daily newspapers make up 5% of the Bulgarian market, then members of our media group represent a negligible part of the whole. As it has been demonstrated, however, the truth only inconveniences the Fake News Factory, which keeps churning out lies about some imaginary monopoly, following its owners’ instructions. For their part, the oligarchs are apparently hoping that their propaganda will deceive the public, pressure the state and ultimately get them off the hook for their crimes.
“This bill (editor’s note – the so-called Peevski media act amendments) was supported by all parliamentary groups. I doubt that anyone has objections to the bill itself because it sheds light on media ownership. It is no coincidence that I asked (Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina) Zaharieva to invite the relevant European commissioner. We should organise a round-table discussion involving representatives of media outlets and the various associations in the sector so we can clear up this topic once and for all. Because if Peevski’s media outlets have a 5% share (I personally know of him owning Telegraph, Monitor and that sports newspaper, Meridian Match I think it was called), the rest is controlled by other owners. And what is the trend here in Bulgaria of late? Every oligarch, or everyone if you will, even political parties (because there are party televisions too), has a media outlet. So whenever they are investigated for something, these media owners say, ‘Well, I am being investigated because of owning a media outlet and not because of privatisation wrongdoings’, for example. And this is just not true. Other media outlets attack the Prosecutor’s Office. And they all attack the government. This bill improves media market transparency.”