Media should be cleared of the oligarchy

The media in Bulgaria are in undeniable need to be rid of not only fake news but of the entire corrupting influence of the oligarchy embodied by Ivo Prokopiev. The recent statement released by the Telegraph Media publications refuting and condemning the unethical campaign conducted on national air by bTV journalist Svetoslav Ivanov and his manipulative questions sent the Fake News Factory into frenzy.

For the past several days all sorts of popular and obscure media town criers and pseudo-experts have been misrepresenting a certain metaphor taken out of context. Obviously oligarch Ivo Prokopiev who is coordinating the entire propaganda campaign against us is combing through every word we publish, putting serious thought into how it can be twisted and turned into fake news.

This is also what the Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria (AEJ-Bulgaria) is doing. Why the NGO is not applying the same thorough approach to the countless articles in Capital and Mediapool containing blatant lies about our publisher Delyan Peevski that we regularly disprove is an altogether different matter. As is the question why a grant-funded NGO is essentially posing as a trade union when the majority of the AEJ-Bulgaria members are former and current employees of Prokopiev and therefore it has almost no journalists representing the leading media in its ranks.

It is important to note that following the release of the ARGO-gate transcripts, which describe how members of various media outlets, businessmen, and politicians plotted joint political campaigns, the AEJ remained silent on the obvious conflict of interest. Not to mention that the participants in the ARGO-gate meeting have confirmed the veracity of the documented conversations, clear proof of the existence of a behind-the-scenes clique in Bulgaria.

It was the ARGO-gate transcripts that diagnosed the condition afflicting the media environment in Bulgaria. Prokopiev gathered journalists of various supposedly competing media outlets to instruct them on how to cover the politicians supported by him “with all their resources”. During that meeting the oligarch boasted about his influence on the national media: “There is a mainstream and a healthy part and to be fair to them they should be made aware of who they should talk to and what they should ask. There should be consultations.”

This is his entire statement, not taken out of context (because that is how we do it, we quote correctly). Subsequently, the Commission for Protection of Competition provided more information supporting the diagnosis – 95% of the advertisement market in the electronic media segment is dominated by bTV and Nova TV. Remember, Prokopiev admitted that he has the power to tell them who to interview and what questions to ask. In addition, the oligarch has his own media outlets, as do his cronies, thus Prokopiev’s hold over the media environment in Bulgaria quickly approaches the definition of monopoly.

The only counterpoint to these 99% is provided by Telegraph Media, whose outlets have never been scared to publish revelations uncomfortable for the oligarchy like the ARGO-gate case. And so, even though Reporters Without Borders do not pay attention to those facts, it is apparent that the Bulgarian media environment suffers from a monopoly of the oligarchy on it.    

“Given that the media outlets of the Capital circle for months now have been circulating the rumour that bTV is to be sold and provided this is true, it would be better if this channel sheds “journalists” like Svetoslav Ivanov who use the national TV broadcast for implementing transparent manipulations just to please their mentors.” This was the awkwardly formulated diagnosis we arrived at in the case of Ivanov.

To avoid misunderstandings we have to specify that “oligarchic influence” is a virus that must be treated like, say, smallpox. This disease manifests itself as sordid pimples all over the patient’s skin. And if a patient just pops these pimples or spreads some ointment over them the virus remains active in their body and persists in poisoning them. That is why it does not matter whether this or that pimple is cleared. It does not matter both what is the name of this pimple and whether it appeared on the body of bTV, Nova TV, BNR, etc. The entire organism has to be purged of this virus. And the name of the virus, as shows ARGO-gate and the analysis of the Commission for Protection of Competition, is Ivo Prokopiev.  

With a view to the declaration of AEJ-Bulgaria regarding we of Telegraph Media would like to ask the following questions: 

1.    Where from do you draw information that Mr Peevski intends to buy Nova TV? Is this statement based on rumours only or do you have a reliable source of information?

2.    What is the reason for maintaining that Mr Peevski enjoys “economic and political influence” in Bulgaria, if he does not own either wind farms, or factories, or even a consulting company. He is just an MP of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, an opposition party in the acting parliament?

3.    Don’t you have concerns about the economic and political influence that Mr Prokopiev may exert over the media given the fact that in the verbatim records of ARGO-gate (and he himself confirmed their authenticity) he admitted before politicians, to whom he promised cooperation, that he can ensure the “right” covering in the so-called “mainstream” media for them?

4.    What strategy have you chosen for combating fake news spread in Bulgaria and are you planning to take a definite stand against the rude manipulations and blatant lies that are circulated by media outlets like Capital, Mediapool, Frognews and such like against Telegraph Media and our publisher Delyan Peevski?

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