Bulgarian media displaying anti-Western speech, financed with Western money

The editorial policy of the Bulgarian media is mainly governed by the interests of the owners as well as by funding sources.

The Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) are budget funded by an EU member state and as well are the beneficiary of additional European funds. However, often, BNR broadcast anti-European and anti-American commentaries, especially in connection to a good occasion to criticize the government.

This has also been the course of action for a long time of the Bulgarian National Television (both media are financed by the state budget), but things have changed over the last two years with the removal of the most active journalists and broadcasters that were focused on that direction. Analyses and comments of Bulgarian and foreign experts are often published, which provoke anti-European moods.

Оn the Bulgarian National Radio, anti-government criticism is still strong and, as a rule, it is coordinated with similar attacks coming from the private media outlets like Capital, Club Z, Dnevnik and dozens of smaller sites, blogs and strong Facebook activity.

These three media outlets above mentioned are also among the most prominent in Bulgaria with anti-EU and anti-US rhetoric. This group is called the “Capital Circle” or the “Prokopiev Circle”, after the name of the owner of “Capital”, Ivo Prokopiev.

Prokopiev’s media are critical to the government of GERB. Nevertheless, they often organize events and conferences using European funds under programs run by ministries and other state structures. The electronic editions of those three media outlets publish anti-American articles more often than anti-European ones. Sometimes, the headlines are speculative and manipulative, targeting president Trump and his policies. Strangely, these media outlets are generally rather in favor of US policies.

The reason for this turning seems to be the “natural” connections that these media have with foundations and other structures in the US Democratic Party, George Soros and others.

In the midst of the war in Syria, the pro-Russian media were Blitz.bg and pik.bg, who constantly wrote about the strength of the Russian weapons, the successful actions of the Russian army and so on. There are other, smaller media in Bulgaria that have preserved their traditional pro-Russian orientation, as well as anti-American and anti-Western feelings – for example, the media of the socialist party duma.bg, barikada.org and petel.bg – but they do not really have much influence on society at present.

Who is who in Bulgarian media:

  1. Btv.bg – bTV Media Group is part of the Central European Media Enterprises. BTV Media Group includes six channels bTV, bTV Action, bTV Cinema, bTV Comedy, RING and bTV Lady. bTV Radio Group includes five radio stations bTV Radio, Classic FM, Jazz FM, N-Joy, Z-Rock. Under bWeb there are numerous digital and mobile projects and sites. The flagship in the group is the bTV TV channel and its news site btv.bg. Generally, it leads an independent policy with support for the right wing political space.
  2. Novatv.bg is a part of NOVA BROADCASTING GROUP AD, which is owned by the Swedish Modern Times Group. In the company’s portfolios are the largest Bulgarian sites, including email provider abv.bg, Vbox7.com, Vesti.bg, Gong.bg, Sinoptik.bg and many more. Netinfo, to which novatv.bg belongs, is part of the New Broadcasting Group and thus becomes part of the biggest media group in Bulgaria. Generally, it leads an independent policy with support for the right wing political space.
  3. Bnt.bg – Owner – the Bulgarian State. Director General – Konstantin Kamenarov, Managing Board – Valery Zapryanov, Zina Trifonova, Vasilena Matakieva, Anton Andonov. Generally, it leads an independent policy with support to the right wing political space.
  4. Bnr.bg – Bulgarian National Radio – published and owned by the Bulgarian state. Director General – Alexander Velev, Management Board – Viktor Serafimov, Ekaterina Borissova, Momchil Georgiev, Svilena Simeonova. BNR Website – bnr.bg. Generally, it leads an independent policy with support for the right wing political space.
  5. Trud.bg – Published by Trud Media Ltd., manager Petyo Hristov Blaskov, owner of Blaskov Media AD. Petyo Blaskov is one of the main players on the Bulgarian media market, specialized mainly in newspapers. He has created a lot of Bulgarian periodicals and has then sold them to local or international investors. Buying the Trud newspaper is his latest media project funded by First Investment Bank. Blaskov has always been oriented towards the Bulgarian Socialist Party. At the same time, he also serves the GERB government to raise money from state-owned companies and funds.
  6. Blitz.bg – Published by “Blitz Information Agency”, owner obscure. The largest tabloid information site – publishes any news but with sensational layouts and titles to attract more readers’ They are generally ready to publish everything for money. They have long been financed by the Russian propaganda machine, have published hundreds of articles on Russian military success in Syria, as well as positive material about Russia. They were close to the deputy from DPS Delyan Peevski, several times the ownership of the site was changed. The owner is currently unclear. Blitz.bg is one of the sites most often spreading fake news.
  7. Pik.bg – Published by “Pik news”, owned by former journalist Nedyalko Nedyalkov. One of the largest yellow information sites – publishes any news but with sensational layouts and titles to attract more readers’ clicks. They are generally ready to publish everything for money. They have long been financed by the Russian propaganda machine, published hundreds of articles on Russian military success in Syria, as well as positive material about Russia. They were close to the deputy from DPS Delyan Peevski, but not at the moment. Pik.bg is one of the sites most often starting or spreading fake news.
  8. utroruse.com – Published by BG PRIVATINVEST GmbH, AUSTRIA, sole owner of the capital Hristo Grozev. The site is the largest in the city of Ruse, together with the newspaper “Utro”. All media controlled by Hristo Grozev (see two more below) are characterized by a relatively balanced policy and, in general, support the ruling GERB party. Hristo Grozev himself has been involved in various media projects since the early 1990s. In 2011, Hristo Grozev was one of the partners in the purchase of the Newspaper Group Bulgaria (the largest printing group at that time) by the German concern WAZ. He participated in the deal with businessmen Lyubomir Pavlov and Ognyan Grozev, the most prominent enemies of the MP from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and media tycoon Delyan Eventually, Hristo Grozev scolded his partners and crossed the country to Peevsky. In general, Grozev represents the interests of Austrian and German investors. He is the owner too of newspaper Standart and its website standartnews.com.
  9. Struma.bg – Published by “Struma” Ltd., owner “Pressgrupa Utro” – “Bg privatinvest” – Hristo Grozev. The site is the largest in Blagoevgrad, together with the Struma newspaper.
  10. Marica.bg – Published by “Presgrupa Utro” – BG PRIVATINVEST GMBH, AUSTRIA, Sole owner of the capital Hristo Grozev. The site is the second largest in Plovdiv, along with the Maritsa newspaper.
  11. Petel.bg – Published by Петел.бг ООД, owners Martin Markov Monika Gutsanova. The site is the largest in Varna. The real owner is Borislav Gutsanov, the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) in Varna. Accordingly, the site serves the BSP and generally carries out a critical publishing policy towards the ruling party GERB and the mayor of Varna, elected by the GERB party.
  12. Flagman.bg – Published by “Mediator 2010”, owners Katya Kasabova and Veselin Vassilev. The biggest news site in Burgas and the region. Katya Kasabova is a former journalist and Veselin Vassilev – a publisher of various media in the city since the early 1990s. Their publishing policy is balanced, generally supporting the ruling GERB party and the mayor of Burgas, who was elected by this party.
  13. News.bg – Published by “Web Media Group”, real owner – the minister of sport Krasen Kralev. Kralev also has another online media group – websites in Sofia and all major cities, under the bulgariautre.bg brand. All media, controlled by Kralev, conduct a publishing policy in support of the ruling GERB party. Especially news.bg and the other sites in the Web Media Group have been announced for a long time to sell, but no one has ever bought them.
  14. Investor.bg – Published by “Investor.bg”, the owner is a business group known as TIM (from the first letters of the names of the three founders and owners). They are former “seals” – marines who have subsequently developed a large-scale business. The group started its operations in the beginning of the 90s in Varna but it has developed throughout the country and currently its main structures are in Sofia. The group includes a bank, an insurance company and many other companies from different economic sectors. Several years ago they bought a group of sites around investor.bg, created several TV channels and more media. German investigative journalist Jurgen Roth made an investigation about TIM, revealing links to organized crime. For years, the structures of the former TIM have been bright, and their media have been primarily oriented towards business information and served the interests of the companies in the group. In general, they do not support openly the ruling GERB party, but they are not particularly critical of them.
  15. Dnevnik.bg – Published by “Economedia” AG, the owners are Ivo Prokopiev and Teodor Zahov. The largest media group for economic information in Bulgaria. The publishing group is strongly associated with Bulgarian right-wing parties, who lost the last elections and were not represented in the government. Ivo Prokopiev is one of the most active “architects” of the right space in Bulgaria and the most prominent enemy of deputy and media tycoon Delyan Peevsky (Peevski’s media have a minor online presence). Prokopiev’s media and journalists claim high professionalism and objectivity, but actually serve the structures of the business empire of Ivo Prokopiev (he owes various banks over 500 million euros). Prokopiev’s media and himself are often very critical of the GERB government, which does not prevent them from organizing various conferences on a permanent basis, using funding from ministries and other state structures.
  16. 24chasa.bg – Published by “Pro News Bulgaria”, owned by Venelina Gocheva and Dimitar Dimitrov. The site and the “24 Hours” (24 chasa) daily newspaper are part of the largest online/print group in Bulgaria. Generally speaking, the group is always close to the governing publishing policy, which is mainly subordinated to commercial interests. It is not part of the Peevsky-controlled media, but it has a moderate, non-critical policy to Peevski. The manager and main owner of the group is former editor-in-chief of “24 Hours” Venelina Gocheva, who bought the group through a bank loan. The partner of Venelina Gocheva is lawyer Dimitar Dimitrov.
  17. zarata.info – Published by “Zara” EOOD, the manager and main owner is Petar Zhelyazkov, the site has mainly right-oriented publishing policy. This is the largest information site in town of Stara Zagora.
  18. Offnews.bg – Published by Off Media AD, the manager and one of the owners is the journalist Vladimir Yonchev. Officially the site conducts mainly right-oriented publishing policy. In general, however, “plays” with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, as well as with other parties. Publishing policy is mainly subordinate to commercial interests. The site often wins funding from various European and other projects.
  19. TrafficNews.bg – Published by Traffic Bank Ltd., the owners are Ilian Velkov and Alexander Apostolov. The site is specialized mainly in criminal information, but also publishes all of the more important news from the Plovdiv region as well as from the country and the world. The manager is Parashkeva Ivanova, the best Plovdiv criminal reporter. Generally they work professionally, they shoot a lot of videos. Their policy as a whole is in support of the ruling GERB party, but they do not advocate it.
  20. novini.bg – Published by is “Sportal.bg”Ltd, the owners are Stilian Shishkov and his father Angel Shishkov. The site novini.bg is one of the most visited on the Bulgarian Internet space, but practically there are no professional journalists. Basically, news releases are published or copyrighted materials from other sites. Visits to novini.bg come mainly from the big site in this media group – sportal.bg, which is the largest site in Bulgaria with specialized sports information. The publishing policy of the group is entirely subordinate to commercial interests, not critical of the government. They support the large number of visits to their sites, mainly by buying traffic from Facebook and other sources. Because the information on novini.bg is mostly copy/pasted, they often include fake news created or distributed by other media.

Based on this report:

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