National Radio Chief Sacked after Unprecedented Broadcast Stoppage

National Radio Chief Sacked after Unprecedented Broadcast Stoppage

ESD 15:21:31 17-10-2019

National Radio Chief Sacked
after Unprecedented
Broadcast Stoppage

Sofia, October 17 (BTA) - The Council for Electronic Media (CEM) on Thursday terminated the mandate of Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) Director General Svetoslav Kostov. The decision was adopted unanimously by five votes in favour during a CEM meeting.

CEM elected BNR Archive Director Anton Mitov to serve as acting Director General.

Kostov's dismissal is expected to end a crisis at BNR which started with the suspension of a popular political show host, Silvia Velikova, and an unprecedented stoppage of the terrestrial transmission of BNR's most popular Horizont Service for five hours on September 13 in violation of BNR's obligation to broadcast round the clock. At a CEM hearing in September, Velikova disclosed details of pressure she had been put to by the BNR director, presumably over the way she covered the work of the judiciary (which is her beat) and the only candidate for Prosecutor General (Ivan Geshev). The regulator first offered BNR Director General Kostov a chance to come down but he persistently denied any wrongdoing and refused to resign. His resignation was also demanded by the majority of BNR journalists. A group of BNR staffers held a rally in his support.

Announcing CEM's decision to sack Kostov on Thursday, CEM Chair Sofia Vladimirova said no one had explained to her why the BNR Horizont Service was stopped for five hours on September 13. According to the CEM members, the unprecedented stoppage was a gross violation of the Radio and Television Act. It breached a fundamental human right guaranteed by the Constitution: the right to be informed. CEM cited as "aggravating circumstances" the "unlawful removal of a show host" (Silvia Velikova) and the "unconvincing and contradictory explanations" given by the station's chief. LN/VE

Source: Sofia