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2 E. Eur. Const. Rev. 48 (1993)
Media Wars in Sofia

handle is hein.journals/eeurcr2 and id is 148 raw text is: EA~sT EUROPEAN CONSTrmrrIONAi. REVIEW

These provisions, viewed in the post-Communist po-
litical context, indicate that the goal of participatory
representative communicative democracy remains in
force, but has been redefined. What it seems to mean in
practice today is not access, representation and participa-
tion in the operation of the media by society as a whole,
but by the political class, the power elite which seeks
direct involvement in, and influence upon, broadcasting
policy and particularly the state/public broadcast media.
Although the situation is changing and gradual improve-
ment is noticeable, it will take some time yet before the

consequences of the immediate post-revolutionary pe-
riod-when in most countries the power structures
considered broadcasting their exclusive domain-are su-
perseded by a different approach. In any event, though,
because the stress is on freedom rather than equality as
the underlying value of public communication, access
will largely be governed by market mechanisms.
KarelJakubowicz is media policy advisor to the Prime Minister
of Poland.

Media Freedoms In Eastern Europe: Bulgaria

By Rumyana Kolarova and Dimitr Dimitrov
In Bulgaria, as everywhere in Eastern Europe, the process
of media liberalization encompasses two distinct tasks:
the institutionalization of democratic norms of access and
publicity, and the establishment of a free and private
media market. The process began with government plu-
ralization of access to state subsidies and the abolition of
government censorship. But even during this first stage
the unequal treatment of the press and the electronic
media was obvious. While state regulation of the print
media was limited to the distribution of state subsidies
and thus further liberalization depended on privatization
and the establishment of a free market, in the case of
radio and TV a special body was established with the aim
of introducing democratic norms of access and publicity.
Print media
During the first phase of liberalization the print media
were not subject to any specific normative regulations.
According to a special Bill on Parties passed by the
Communist parliament in March 1990 as part of the
Round Table agreements, all political organizations were
entitled to issue their own newspapers, magazines, jour-
nals and other printed matter. State regulation took place
predominantly through allocation of paper at state-subsi-
dized prices. Paper was also allotted to the few emerging
private publishers-aJanuary 1989 Decree of the Council
of Ministers authorized and regulated the activities of
private and state firms. When state subsidies were cut
less than a year later, a competitive newspaper industry

could emerge.
The quick privatization of print media could be seen
as a preemptive defense against expected retributive
legislation punishing old-regime organizations (the
Communist Party, the Communist Youth Organization,
the Agrarian Union, trade unions, the Fatherland Front)
which issued the six major dailies and a number of other
magazines. The law on confiscation of the property of
these organizations was passed by the parliament in De-
cember 1991, but by then practically all the major politi-
cal organizations that existed under the Comnmunist
regime had transferred their property rights to newly
established, legally independent publishing firms. Not
all of the new editions survived the changes, but when
entering the competitive market all of them relied on the
assets of their precursors. One of the two most influential
and successful press groups in Bulgaria today is the
privatized publishing house of the old-regime trade unions.
One of the two dailies published by this press group still
consistently promotes trade union policy.
Another fact peculiar to the privatization of print
media in Bulgaria is that there are no substantial foreign
investments. The new private newspapers that have ac-
quired a dominant market position were founded by local
entrepreneurs (as a rulejournalists) and are closely related
to local financial capital (the newly established private
banks). For example, the biggest daily, 24 Hours, with a
circulation of 300,000, was founded and initially con-
trolled by the biggest private bank, First Private Bank.

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