• Bulgarian public broadcaster BNT faces bankruptcy
  • Former DG acquired UEFA and FIFA rights beyond financial means
  • Government budget “grossly inadequate,” says BNT boss

Bulgarian National Television

Bulgarian National Television

The Bulgarian-language public television network BNT has accumulated a deficit of over €20 million with estimates this could reach €40 million by the end of the year, putting the PSB’s financial status in jeopardy.

BNT is facing a decision over whether to declare bankruptcy after a state television audit found media spending had increased under the broadcaster’s director general Konstantin Kamenarov.

As a “budget organisation, BNT is not entitled to a deficit,” but has accrued a significant sum compared to the state television network, according to a report by Bulgarian news service Capital.

The Public Financial Inspection Agency (PIFA) report carried out a financial check over the period of 1 January 2018 to 20 April 2019 and found in 2018 BNT exceeded its maximum legal obligation by €4.09 million in the first four months and accumulated additional debt in 2019.

The former DG Kamenarov, who resigned in April 2019, faced scrutiny in the report where it was concluded that in 2018 the financial unsecured contracts were not foreseen as for payment in the following years budget.

BNT’s new leadership team publicly announced it was “practically bankrupt” with the National Assembly debating and voting on the TV budget for 2020 last November.

It was argued the budget was “grossly inadequate,” the new DG Emil Koshlukov said: “We are practically bankrupt. If the Parliament does not take action with the Budget Law and the government does not allocate targeted subsidies to cover our urgent obligations - dissemination, sporting rights with UEFA and FIFA, key international treaties, could lock our bills tomorrow and declare us bankrupt.”

In February 2018, the BNT Governing Council decided to acquire UEFA broadcasting rights and European Qualifications worth € 6.3 million. This happened against the recommendations and opinion of the BNT Finance Directorate: “Assuming new commitments for 2018 is unsecured and will create prerequisites for an increase in the BNT budget deficit for 2018”.

The BNT subsidy for 2019 amounts to €34.63 million, and on March 29 the state television received €25,000 as an additional transfer from the central budget due to the elections in the European Parliament.

BNT’s maximum eligible liabilities for 2019 are €5 million.