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Solons block reform law

More debate needed, Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg sez

BUDAPEST — Passage of media legislation, meant to modernize and bring order to Bulgaria’s chaotic TV industry was halted in February when Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg told members of the ruling majority to halt a vote on the controversial bill.

Later Saxe-Coburg said more debate was needed before the law should be put to a vote.

The future of Bulgarian media reform is now in question, and critics fear the delay threatens to destabilize the territory’s nascent commercial TV industry.

Milena Milotinova, head of Parliament’s media committee, said passage of the bill is vital to resolving questions about the licenses of commercial TV broadcasters now in operation.

The bill is controversial because it increases the number of members on the broadcast regulatory board, thus giving politicians greater sway in their efforts to control changes at state-owned Bulgarian National Television (BNT).

The bill could increase ad revenues to Bulgaria’s struggling public TV sector by increasing BNT’s advertising time. The bill allows up to 20 minutes of advertisements a day, five minutes more than the current quota.

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