site.btaBTA Is 126 Years Old on February 16

BTA Is 126 Years Old on February 16
BTA Is 126 Years Old on February 16
BTA's head office building in Sofia (BTA Photo)

The Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) marks its 126th birthday on February 16, the date when its first news bulletin appeared in 1898. The news bulletin was hand-written by the Agency’s first director, Oskar Iskander. It consisted of four pages with seven news items: on the health of Princess Clementine of Orleans (Prince Ferdinand I's mother), events in the Balkans, and stock and commodity exchange prices. For the first three years, the BTA bulletin was written only by hand. On December 4, 1901, the Agency issued its first typewritten bulletin. 

BTA is one of Europe's and the world's oldest news agencies. It is among just a dozen or so agencies that operated at the end of the 19th century: Agence Havas of France (est. 1835, predecessor of Agence France-Presse), the Reuters Telegram Company (1851) and the Press Association (1868) of Britain, the Associated Press of the US (1846), Denmark’s Ritzaus Bureau (1866), Norway’s Norsk Telegrambyrå (1867, now Norwegian News Agency NTB), the Hungarian Telegraphic Office (MTI) (1880), the Finnish News Agency (STT) (1887), the Romanian Agency (today’s AGERPRES) (1889), and the Swiss Telegraphic Agency (1894).

Since February 1, 1898, when BTA's first director, Oskar Iskander, took office, the Agency has had 36 heads. Between April 1955 and July 1962, BTA was headed by its first and so far only woman director, Elena Gavrilova. The two longest-serving heads of BTA so far have been Lozan Strelkov (for nearly 19 years, from August 1962 to January 1981) and Maxim Minchev (for 17 years, from April 2003 to October 2020). Both died in office.

BTA is running thousands of news items and photos from Bulgaria and abroad daily. It is the only news organization in Bulgaria that processes and relays the news services of world-leading news agencies such as Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, dpa, TASS, Xinhua, and some 30 national news agencies.   

In 1951, BTA launched its Home News and International News daily bulletins. A year later, the External News Service was established as a separate department. In 1958, the External News daily bulletin was launched.

In 1984, BTA's External Service launched Daily News, a hard-copy daily newsletter in English and Russian. The Russian version was discontinued in 1991.

The Agency launched its weekly magazine LIK (Literature, Arts, Culture) on January 8, 1965. It folded in 1992, was re-launched in 1998, and went all-digital in 2013. Since 2022, it is published monthly.

In its archives, BTA keeps all its news bulletins and publications since 1898, over 100,000 subject files, and more than 9 million photographs. The oldest negatives date from the late 1930s. Digitalization of the photo library began in August 1997.

BTA started distributing its news products electronically in 2011. On February 16, 2022, all of them became accessible free of charge under an amendment to the Bulgarian News Agency Act, gazetted on March 9, 2021.

In April 2014, BTA launched its own audiovisual studio producing video clips, comments and interviews with leading local and foreign experts, researchers, public and cultural figures.

Many outstanding intellectuals have worked at BTA throughout the years, including poets Dimcho Debelyanov, Nikolai Liliev and Nikola Yanev, writers Yordan Yovkov, Zmei Goryanin, Todor Genov, Vicho Ivanov and Serafim Severnyak, art critic and theorist, writer and semiotician Peter Uvaliev, literary critics Dimiter Yanakiev and Filip Panayotov, artists Dimiter Boyadjiev and Anzhela Minkova, encyclopaedia compiler Ivan G. Danchov, newspaper and magazine editors Stefan Prodev, Krassimir Droumev, Vecheslav Tounev and Svetoslav Terziev, journalists Stefan Tihchev, Ivan Garelov, Dimitri Ivanov, Petko Bocharov, Asen Agov and Daniela Kuneva, and translators Tsvetan Stoyanov, Vladimir Moussakov, Krustan Dyankov, Nelly Dospevska, Todor Vulchev, Vera Gancheva, Alexander Shurbanov, Dragomir Petrov and Aglika Markova. 

When it was set up, BTA shared a building at 1 Petnadeseti Noemvri Street (across from the National Assembly) with the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Public Worship. This building now houses the Presidium of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The Agency's present head office at 49 Tsarigradsko Chaussee Blvd. was constructed on a 1 hectare site between 1959 and 1961 after the designs of Evgenii Zidarov as one of the first post-Stalinist office buildings in Sofia.

BTA has a total of 37 national press clubs, 29 of which are located in Bulgaria. The first national press club was opened in 1991 in the Agency's building in Sofia, offering state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, fibre optic Internet access, possibility to file reports straight from news conferences, video screens, news conference interpretation facilities, audiovisual links, TV interactives and Internet connectivity. More than 10,000 press conferences held there have made news for the past 20 years. The rest of the Bulgarian national press clubs were opened until 2023 in Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Dobrich, Gabrovo, Haskovo, Kardzhali, Kazanlak, Kyustendil, Lovech, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Petrich, Pleven, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Ruse, Samokov, Shumen, Silistra, Sliven, Smolyan, Stara Zagora, Svishtov, Targovishte, Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Vidin, Vratsa, Yambol.

BTA also has seven national press clubs abroad: in Ankara (Turkiye), Bucharest (Romania), Bosilegrad (Serbia), Odesa (Ukraine), Skopije (North Macedonia), and Taraclia (Moldova). The Agency unveiled a national press club on board the Bulgarian naval research ship Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii (RSV 421) in late 2022 and at the St Kliment Ohridski Bulgarian Antarctic Base on Livingston Island in February 2024. 

In 2005, BTA organized the First World Meeting of Bulgarian Media with the participation of journalists from Bulgaria and Bulgarian communities abroad. Since then, 17 World Meetings of Bulgarian Media have taken place annually: in Chicago, the US; Rome, Italy; Madrid, Spain; Sofia, Burgas and Varna, Bulgaria; Vienna, Austria; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Bucharest, Romania; Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria; Bosilegrad and Dimitrovgrad, Serbia; Athens, Greece; Prague, Czechia; Chisinau, Moldova; Skopje, North Macedonia; Tirana, Albania; Rila Monastery and Kyustendil, Bulgaria; Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel; and Kazanlak, Bulgaria. The next meeting is scheduled to be held in Odesa in June 2024.

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By 03:36 on 17.04.2024 Today`s news

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