BUDAPEST — While the world prepares for conflict in Iraq, Bulgarian TV is turning war-mongering into ratings.

The Bulgarian Defense Ministry has just launched the Military TV network, a public TV cable channel that will air breaking news from conflict zones and war-themed programming.

The catalyst for the channel is the acceptance of the former Soviet satellite into Europe and NATO.

Granted a license to broadcast last September, Military TV will have a 4½-hour daily schedule.

Launch budget is estimated at $38,000, with total 2003 operating costs estimated to be $220,000.

The network is broadcasting from a studio in the Vassil Levski National Military Academy in Shoumen in northern Bulgaria. As the net expands its reach, the headquarters will move to the capital, Sofia.

Military TV has sealed deals to broadcast via cablers in the country’s main cities as well as northern Bulgaria and the Black Sea coast. By year’s end, Military TV hopes to be uplinked to satellite, giving it a near-national reach.

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