Snezhana Popova



This text examines the radio process in Bulgaria 1990-2015 in the light of Bourdieu’s “theory of the fields” capable of reporting dynamics and attaching to it systematic grounds and reliable explanations.

Key words: field, journalistic field, media, radio, internet radio.

The constitution of the theory (théorie des champs) has been attributed to the 1980s when, in the words of Bourdieu himself, he attempted at identifying the general properties of the fields based on a series of already conducted more specific analyses[1] (of the religious, literary, scientific, political fields). These properties appear most distinctly presented in “The Logic of Fields”[2], used as reference by many authors looking for a synthetic expression of the concept of “field” – one of Bourdieu’s three primary concepts, along with “habitus” and “capital” through which society can be read, understood and spoken.

What is remarkable is that in the next years, Pierre Bourdieu devoted special attention to media and journalism field, in particular to television that became the object of his critical works, the most famous of which, “On Television”[3] published in 1996, is probably his most disputed work. This attention confirms the theory’s sensitivity to movement and transformation in the media field: it was exactly in the 1980s that crucial modifications took place, accompanied by an outburst of hopes and illusions in relation to the media in European countries: private, hence specialized radio and TV channels, cable distribution and programs on demand, satellite and cross-border TV, etc. came into being. Political twists and turns in Eastern European countries entailed an avalanche of economic, technological and socio-professional changes to the media sector.

Pierre Bourdieu’s challenging concepts may have remained, as some say, in the last century. It is hardly the case with their applicability in making sense of media and social developments. What do 21st century media look like in the terminology of Bourdieu’s theory of fields?


“Field” and its application in the study of media and journalism


In normal uses, “field” resides along with “sphere”, “area”, “environment”, all implying the idea of spatiality – of surroundings and/or parts thereof. While “field” also implies it, it does not lose its connection with scientific uses where the emphasis is on the internal organization and engines of change. In Pierre Bourdieu’s works, this emphasis is additionally charged and the notion remains rather “open” – instead of a strict definition of “field”, Bourdieu prefers revealing its characteristics “through empirical involvement in use in a systematic manner”[4].

The characteristics of Bourdieu’s field are well-known to social researchers – it has a specificity that is non-reducible to this of other fields; boundaries, warranting the space to be considered a legitimate space; at least some autonomy, without which it stops functioning as a field; relations of powers like engines in the structuring of the field; products of opposition of forces as effects of the field. All these characteristics relate to the more general principle that thinking within the categories of the field means “thinking relationally”: the field is in relation with other fields and, in addition, has its own subfields; any “happening” in the field has its own complex projections. In terms of media, this is often illustrated with an example from “On Television” rejecting one-track explanations of and about the media: “The world of journalism is a microcosm with its own laws, defined by its position in the world as a whole and through its push and pull relationships with other microcosms. Saying that it is autonomous and has its own laws means that what happens in it cannot be comprehended directly and by means of external factors. […] For example, what happens in TF1 cannot be explained solely by the fact that the channel is owned by the Bouygues Company. Undoubtedly, any explanation that overlooks this fact would be unsatisfactory as well as the explanation based only on it. Even more so because at first glance it would seem satisfactory (emphasis added)”[5].

The analysis of media processes within the terminology of the field should probably start from the question what the relations between the media and journalism fields are.

If we were to adhere closely to Pierre Bourdieu, we could assume that the media field should be interpreted in direct connection with and as part of the field of cultural production (with its respective “clean” and “commercial” subfields) where a variety of “works” compete[6]. The field of works, of cultural production, is organized through three interrelated processes – taking a position in the field, achieving popularity and relevant audience, and gaining recognition in the respective field – which at the same time make it “open” to other fields.

While being in turn a space of “works”, the journalism field keeps separately Pierre Bourdieu’s attention with its own specificity. The vision of the latter is developed in the article “Journalism and Ethics”[7]. Bourdieu notes that the constant condition of the journalism field is experiencing a strong pressure from the field of power – political and economic. When journalists choose free speech and actions in pursuance of professional standards, they work for the autonomization of the journalism field from the power field while at the same time expanding their own freedom. The problem is that not all journalists and not all media consider freedom and professional ethics to be virtues. Moreover, Bourdieu continues, the solution of the problem is not only in the hands of journalists but is related to creation of conditions where the journalist will have an increasing interest in resisting economic, political and other influences and citizens will have а growing interest in virtuous journalism. The work in the direction of that kind of “interests” includes social evolution and breaking up with professional ideologies that promote beautiful mantras on the journalist’s craft and put too much trust in elementary sociology, “which does not criticize but registers discourses”. Journalism is still in the process of awakening to the fact that its specific capital is in its Hippocratic oath – the affiliation to the profession is about accepting “the rules of the game”, observing them and looking for criticism and authorities within the journalism field only and not outside it.

If we look carefully into the above, we can see that the interrelations between the media and the journalistic fields are charged with the tension of coupling market and civil logics and in Bourdieu’s case this (at least) two-pronged position expresses the very essence of the media. Thus, the considerations on the radio where we will focus our attention below include simultaneously the ideas of industry (cultural production, production of works) and of “fourth power” (journalism), without ignoring the power influences exerted through the state, which is an object of particular attention in Bourdieu’s texts.

Patrick Champagne, a co-author with Pierre Bourdieu of a number of important texts, including on media and journalism, talks about the “impossible autonomy” of economic and political powers and develops the idea of tensions in the field of journalism in such a way that the word “ruptures” seems relevant to their utterance: between great reporters, commentators and investigating journalists on one hand and corrupted journalists and paparazzi on the other hand; between those who write in “Le Monde” and comply with the code and the hosts of the evening news on the most watched mass TV[8]. Champagne considers ruptures derivatives of the dual structure of the field belonging to the “market of symbolic goods for general public”, being counter to “the limited ‘market’ of artists” (writers, scientists) who publish in small issues and target their peers in the field of intellectual production. The attempts at “incorporation” of economic profitability and intellectual production, of long-term and short-term requirements are common to most editor’s offices. In the understanding of the cited author, the intellectual and the economic poles remain irreconcilable (an example is provided by the hybrid of “mediatized intellectual”, perceived as an “intellectual for the media”), but in a way that can be referred to as paradoxical (because, in the words of the cited author, “an economically successful journalistic enterprise always also seeks properly journalistic, that is to say, intellectual success[9]“).

Along with researchers from Pierre Bourdieu’s immediate surroundings, the theory of the fields has inspired many media researchers from various generations. Our choice here falls on several texts emphasizing on applications of the theory and thus important for the analysis of the Bulgarian radio field hereinafter.

In a number of works, the Belgian researcher Yves Patte developed Bourdieu’s theory toward operationalization for the purpose of application in analysis. The author starts from a series of important questions, the most significant of which seems to be “is there a field in reality or is the field a research construct”[10]. (This is a legitimate question because, as Bourdieu himself says in “The Logic of Fields”, the field is not just a collection of institutions, but also a space of objectively constructed relations.) As often happens with Bourdieu’s concepts, simple answers are unsatisfactory. Patte maintains the view that the “field” is a sociological concept that requires a change to the usual vision, which registers visible things: “To think in the terminology of the field allows you at the same time […] to construct an object and establish social facts”. The opposition between a “field as a methodological tool” and a “field as a social reality” predetermines the presence of yet another opposition – between a “strong” and a “weak” use by researchers of the concept of “field”[11]. In his own work on the application of Bourdieu’s theory as a research tool, Patte constructs the field of the informational francophone Belgian press on a debate on a particular subject (prostitution) by eliminating the media that are outside the debate, as well as variables that do not cause significant differences, i.e. produces a model, taking into account repetitions and also the fact that it takes an idea of the whole to understand the individual parts[12].

Another question whose answer is important to this text is “what is the organization of journalism and media in the relevant subfields”. We should reiterate that here simple answers are unsatisfactory, too. In his works on television, Bourdieu implies that, for example, the television field is a subfield within the journalistic field – a suggestion relating to the relevant vision in the specific text.

The issue of subfields is present in many texts employing the theory of the field. For Dominique Marchetti, subfields in media and journalism are “subspaces of activities – journalist specializations, types of media, etc.”[13], which follow their own logic and without which the position of a particular media/journalist in the field cannot be comprehended. This definition by Marchetti reiterates that the journalistic and the media fields interfere with each other and that their distinction is possible only within the steps of a specific analysis. The definition, at the same time, encourages the perception of the radio field as a space of such interference. In another text, the same author examines the processes of specialization in the media in terms of the valorization of specialized spaces (economic, international, sports and other types of journalism) vis-à-vis “general” fields[14] by putting an emphasis on an important process that has had structural functions in the modern Bulgarian journalistic field as well. Other authors have also written interesting works on the specializations of journalists. For example, Julien Duval points to a number of features of economic journalism, deriving from the opening of the journalistic field “to the outside”, in particular – to the economic field: journalists turn to a “sub-market” of users (owners, managers, i.e. to the economic power); they gradually embrace the laws of private enterprises; their feeling of freedom is in part an illusion based on the fact that their idea of the mechanisms through which the economic world controls the media is thoroughly partial[15].




The Bulgarian radio field: structuring and self-awareness


Of special value to the text are the reflections by a variety of authors on the structuring of the media/journalistic field around oppositions between powers as its engines – general profile – specialization, as already mentioned above, and also: commercial – non-commercial, public – non-commercial, public – commercial, national – local, objective – politically partisan, conservative – innovative, old – modern, orthodox – heretical; professionalism – merchantability, diversification – homogenization, etc. Some of these oppositions are, in a natural way, incorporated in the review of processes in the Bulgarian radio field.

The beginning of such a “review”, in this case, was predetermined – the turbulent changes and the diversification of the media in Europe in the 1980s started with full force in Bulgaria shortly after the beginning of democratic changes and the fall of the Wall.

It would not correspond to researchers’ intention, however, if we were to associate the change of the radio field only with the emergence of new actors in it, namely private radio stations in late 1992.

Radio-field engines declared their presence as early as during the state monopoly and remained powerful in the time to come, of course, in other constellations. These include at least two oppositions: archaic – modern and general profile – specialization. Due to historical circumstances and coincidences, in the early 1970s, the Bulgarian radio[16] focused on borrowing a developed European radio model (the French model); this orientation enabled the above two and in fact interrelated oppositions to express themselves within a single institution – the multi-program state-owned radio and its constituent professional structures.

Vis-à-vis the media field, the state radio presents itself as a system of radio programs, European in its form, which seems much more modern than the radio in other (then socialist) countries and, thus, it occupied an authoritative position in Bulgaria’s media space by taking part in its “modernization” (“incentive” for Bourdieu’s field). Compared to the radio field itself, the multi-program structure of the radio relates to the establishment of experts with general media/journalistic competence (journalists in various communicative roles, specialists in programming, production management, etc.) and “narrower” specialists attracted to work with different aspects of the media as a cultural institution (writers, musicians, actors, playwrights, specialists in the subjects of various programs, etc.). This “personality pool”, professionally built and covering in general major media activities (not including here the important specialists in technical equipment) became an important asset of the radio field for a long time thereafter.

The “general profile – specialization” opposition stems from the different manner in which the two conditionally differentiated groups of specialists “operate” the assessment of their work – recognition and popularity. Most of the narrow specialists referred to herein, as in the earliest stages of radio development, value more the recognition they receive in the relevant field of cultural production (music, theater, literature, science, etc.) and its critics than the assessment within the media and the popularity among the audience. As normal as this might seem, it has to do with limiting their autonomous action in the media and conscious/ unconscious channeling of interests of certain artistic circles and individual artists. Conversely, the leverage for the “weight” of specialists with general media competence in the radio field referred to herein is their popularity, audience numbers and responses. However, popular journalists are those who are particularly interesting to the political power in all ages: avenues to limit their autonomy include seduction, disciplining, pressure, penalty. Naturally, politicians exert influence also through the so-called artistic circles and relations among artistic guilds, in turn, subject journalists to influences. The radio field, just like Bourdieu says, is powerfully radiated by power-related interests.

The “general profile – specialization” opposition has an interesting fate. Even more because the emergence of private radio stations coincided with the closure of specialized state radio programs on literature, music and education[17].

Founded mostly by experts with experience in the state radio and as part of the radio field’s capital, private radio stations initially reproduced on the principle of content fractalization – by means of reproduction of the simplified whole or of individual constituent parts of existing programs. The first several years of development of private radio saw mostly creation of programs by analogy and with the heyday of new professional ideologies – new praise and denial.

New professional ideologies gave rise to the processing of relations in the radio field by introducing new ideas about the processes in it. First of all and quite quickly, the archaic – modern opposition “flipped over”: archaic already was the state radio (the “old”, “formal”), modern was the private radio, which had not yet emancipated from the “matrix”, yet it made up for this with the relevant self-announcements and actual success in the utilization of foreign models. The emergence of musical programs in various styles at the same time provided reasons for private radio stations with a simpler format to declare themselves the specialized pole in the radio field. Thus, the general profile – specialized opposition, in turn (with isolated exceptions), presented itself as state-private and as long as the specialized pole suggests “finer” knowledge and more precise targeting of the audience, the state radio was again devalorized. If we go back to Bourdieu’s terminology, it is about redistribution of the field’s “specific capital”: the commercial – public opposition was emerging and gathering strength.

The strengthening of these two poles became an evident fact in the late 1990s when a number of circumstances[18] sent the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) and private radio stations in two different lanes. The involvement of the state through a law and a regulatory authority amplified and channeled the power’s pressure, which was initially distributed on the field rather unevenly. Almost as important is the fact that a civil sector in the area of media developed, where media NGOs teamed up to express the guild’s general interest[19] and saw to the strengthening of professional beliefs. In fact, at that time, a sort of “lexical problem” surrounds the commercial-public opposition: commercial radio was talked about as “private”, having its own public functions, while the public (under the law) radio, which was financed from the state budget – as “state-owned”. Overall, the radio field maintained visibility of mutual recognition, collegiality and confidence in the guild’s common, general interest. “Running in different lanes”, however, was a fact – the state-owned/public, on one hand, and the private/commercial, on the other hand, had increasingly clear outlines as subfields of relative autonomy and more different than common internal laws. Evidence for this can be found in the fact that when shocks and crises occurred in one of the subfields, the other one more or less “won” (reputation, audience) – public and commercial were shaped as competitive subfields.

The crises and shocks in the subfields had, in turn, different stakes.

The crises at the BNR[20] have repeatedly become subject of commenting and while comments have been versatile, they share a common line: journalists’ struggle for the field’s autonomy from political pressure. Of course, at the same time, struggles that are quite more complicated have taken place within the field itself. Either way, however, free speech strengthened as a professional virtue in public perception, its nature of a field-specific type of capital was emphasized. Journalists’ names were also strengthened as part of this capital and an important resource unfolding its potential following the end of “the wrestlers’ periods” (crises) in the process of “normal” professional existence. Thus, oppositions came to the fore through which journalism took a kind of revenge, for example, the informationentertainment opposition, whereby the pole of the “talking radio” offering information and analysis is the valorized pole. The praise of the free talking radio sheds a new light on the commercial subfield where new radio stations were added to the established private information ones[21], providing, in turn, a perspective to journalism. The adoption of the Code of Ethics of Bulgarian Media in late 2004, signed by most radio stations, is a milestone in this (temporary) journalistic rise. At the same time, Bulgaria took the highest positions in the freedom of speech rankings[22].

As mentioned above, commercial radio stations were concerned with their own problems, the most significant of them being related to the Radio and Television Act and its possible amendments, seen as hazardous to business. The commercial subfield, in fact, was united mostly in relation to its views on the “good” law (which became a reason for confrontations with the BNR). It is precisely in connection with this law that the collapse of the guild organization – the Bulgarian Media Coalition (established, by the way, again on occasion of the law) – started. In 2005, it was left by the oldest and most numerous journalists’ organization, which had also undertook trade union functions – the Union of Bulgarian Journalists (UBJ)[23].

At the same time, within the commercial subfield, a new variation of the general-specialized opposition emerged, where specialized profile radio stations opposed radio stations that were “lacking identity”, being “jack of all trades” and in general “old-fashioned”, reproducing locally the information and musical programs targeted at the general public. In this case, radio programs featuring local information in service of residents of small towns and adjacent villages were “professionally devalued”.

The turmoil and crises in the commercial subfield, as mentioned above, also had their specific features, for example, being in the interest of some at the expense of other private “players”. While the suspension of licensing new radio stations for a few years[24] may seem like a turmoil, as long as it impeded economic initiative, it was as much an opportunity to stabilize existing commercial entities, which, through invisible relations, were provided with less competition as a sort of economic support.


Media empires and screen-based radio


Mid 2000s saw processes in commercial radio in Bulgaria whose adoption into the field’s terminology is not difficult and may be expressed concisely: overturning of the diversification -homogenization opposition. The more expensive and more complicated radio production of mostly talking radio stations that provided grounds for diversification of information forms within the radio field, proved to be in serious conflict with commercial orientation[25]; talk formats were replaces with streams of the most popular music. Moreover, musical radio stations changed their formats to ones that are “more commercial”. Media were being bought and sold, without any deviations from the above direction and entirely at the expense of weaker players, which was legalized with the active participation of regulators[26]. It seemed no secret that at stake in this case was the pluralism of the field. In early 2007, the Association of Bulgarian Broadcasters (ABBRO) left the sector organization BMC – the NGO sector was deemed ineffective vis-à-vis the goals of private broadcasters.

While subordinate to the “big ones”, local radio stations invariably strengthened the existence of the national-local opposition in the Bulgarian radio field for many years. In late 2000s, the field was so “damaged” that it was about to part with local radio[27] – one of its founding elements. The field developed toward the unification of radio offering in each and every listening point.

A participant in this unification is the centaurical figure of the “television broadcast on the radio”[28]. Of course, major participants include big owners in radio business counting on the fingers of one hand[29], yet disposing themselves with their radio programs all over the place, owning at the same time televisions, newspapers, and, in recent years, information websites[30]. The Bulgarian radio field is in a circular siege, irradiated by corporate-public interests, influencing, to the degree of “swallowing” the natural oppositions characterizing its specifics.

This provides grounds to say that for the more than 20 years of development of the radio in the post-totalitarian time, there have been plenty of times when the autonomy of the radio field has been more prominent than today, not only because it was desirable and sought after at the price of respective struggles. At the beginning of the process outlined in this article, the radio field was directed by oppositions, which maintained the professional debate and reflections within the categories of professionalism. Subsequently, the knowledge of the specifics of radio formats and opportunities for them to be directly linked to audiences were unfolded. The twisting of this debate in the sole direction of commercial dimensions of the medium swallowed the professional aspects. The professionalism-marketable opposition functioned to the detriment of professionalism in most diverse manners, including when owners wanted to receive licenses for unique programs that they failed to implement because the purpose of occupying air positions is for radio stations to be sold. There has been a commercial dictatorship on professionalism.

In this line of thought, for broadcasting air radio stations the internet is yet another opportunity for the extension of programs and expansion of the territory. They all practice simulcasting and most of them designed websites at the beginning of the new century. At the same time, only few of them complied with the peculiarities of consumption and prepared special internet variations of their primary programs.

Regardless of the extent to which they realize it, in the internet, over-the-air radio stations already compete not only with their own kind, but with all the media in the web. In this competition, two subfields can be identified: the first one, the conventional, adopts the “extensions” of traditional media and the second one, the unconventional – the media born online. From this point of view, the radio originally intended for the air and consequently being transferred to the worldwide web (the online radio) is the form of net radio, which is not distinguished by originality or innovation.

“The new player” is the radio specifically designed and implemented according to the law of the web, intended to be used from a computer, tablet, telephone. The “only net” [31] radio has been increasingly strengthening as an internal alternative in the radio field; since the turn of the century, web-based radio initiatives have been multiplying and diversifying. Information about their number and contents is usually unreliable – online radio is not subject to regulation, often declares its music exempt from copyright, launches and terminates operations on its own volition. According to information as at the autumn of 2014[32], of 330 radio stations altogether, offered through radio listening portals, 103 were functioning Bulgarian online radio stations broadcasting a variety of programs, many of which talk-shows and narrowly specialized. Alive in the radio field again is the diversification-homogenization opposition where diversification is active in the subfield of “оnly net” radio (whose fate so far has not seemed threatened by the processes that led, over the years, to the unification of the radio air) and is attractive to the audience.

Most recently, the French audience measurement company “Médiamétrie” reported a noticeable increase in listening to the radio, especially among young people[33] – mostly by cell phone and computer and especially actively between 20 and 24 hours. Such and similar data make us look, albeit quite remotely, at the modern radio field and its relations with the wider media field: the strong interest in listening in nighttime marked a progress of the radio as an alternative to television. The presence of radio stations online turns them into competing multimedia platforms combining audio production and print and visual content (to the extent that some forget Orson Welles’ aphorism that the advantage of the radio to cinema is that the screen is bigger). Technological developments increasingly challenge the idea of the limits of individual media’s field (the subfields). The limits have collapsed, the media have opened to each other and in each other and this is a process including a number of socio-professional dimensions.

There is, however, a journalism field, cross-cutting through all media and organizing the media space in a new manner. Part of the people involved in the journalistic cause can be found in online radio stations and media and another part – in traditional media of all types. The role of a lone runner in defense of free journalist speech adopted by the BNR may be shared. Single efforts cannot result in either sufficiently diverse talking on the radio, or sufficiently sophisticated entertainment. It is time to revive the professional belief that new journalistic unification around virtues and standards of the job is needed – unification, which must be preceded by differentiation.


September 2015


Текстът е публикуван на български език в: Попова, Снежана. Радио: преобразуване на полето. Медии и комуникация. Юбилеен сборник 40 години ФЖМК. София: УИ „Св. Климент Охридски“, 2016, с. 372-386.





[1] Бурдийо, Пиер. Въпроси на метода. Полета. Том I: Полета на духа. София: Изток-Запад, 2012, с. 11 // Bourdieu, P. Questions de méthode. In: Bourdieu, P. Les règles de l’art. Genèse et structure du champ littéraire. Paris. Seuil, 1992, 1998, pp. 291-350.

[2] Бурдийо, Пиер, Лоик Ж.Д. ВАКАН. Логиката на полетата. Въведение в рефлексивната антропология. София: Критика и хуманизъм, 1993, с. 52-68 // Pierre Bourdieu, Loïc J.D. Wacquant. La logique des champs. Introduction a une anthropologie réflexive, 1991.

[3] Bourdieu, Pierre. Sur la télévision, suivi de L’emprise du journalisme. Paris: Liber-Raisons d’agir, 1996.

[4] Бурдийо, Пиер, Лоик Ж.Д. Вакан. Op. cit., p. 52.

[5] Bourdieu, Pierre. Op. cit., p. 44.

[6] Бурдийо, Пиер. За една наука за творбите. Практическият разум. София: Критика и хуманизъм, 1997, с. 53-69 // Lecture delivered within Cristian Gauss Seminars in Criticism, Princeton University, 1986.

[7] Bourdieu, Pierre. Journalisme et éthique. Les cahiers du journalisme, 1996, №1, pp. 10-17.

[8] Champagne, Patrick. La double dépendance. Quelques remarques sur les rapports entre les champs politique, économique et journalistique. HERMÈS, №17-18, 1995, p. 215, 226.

[9] Ibid., p. 225.

[10] Patte, Yves. Le „champ“: réalité sociale ou outil méthodologique? Recherches européennes en sociologie des medias, 2005. URL:

[11] Ibid.

[12] Patte, Yves. Sur le concept de „champ“. L’approche „more geometrico“ d’un débat public, la prostitution en Belgique. Sociologie et sociétés, v. 38, 2006, №1, p. 235-261.

[13] Marchetti, Dominique. Sociologie de la production de l’information. Cahiers de la recherche sur l’éducation et les savoirs, 2002, №1, рp. 17-32.

[14] See Marchetti, Dominique. Les sous-champs spécialisés du journalisme. Réseaux, 2002, №111, p. 25.

[15] Duval, Julien. Critique de la raison journalistique. Le Seuil, 2004, cit. by Maler, Henri. Présentation et résumé du livre de Julien Duval „Critique de la raison journalistique“. Observatoire des medias ACRIMED.

[16] In 1990, the Bulgarian radio had four national programs – “Horizon” (informational and musical), “Hristo Botev” (artistic and publishing), “Orpheus” (literary and musical), “Knowledge” (educational) – and five regional radio stations (RRSs) in Plovdiv, Varna, Shumen, Stara Zagora and Blagoevgrad. The “Horizon” informational and musical program (and in part “Hristo Botev” program) was broadcast by the RRSs and by many local radio stations in the hours outside their own short programs.

[17] The first private radio station “FM+” was launched on 15 October 1992. The state radio “Orpheus” and “Knowledge” programs were closed in December 1992 and their decommissioning was justified by economic considerations.

[18] The most evident among them is the adoption of Bulgaria’s first special Radio and Television Act (September 1996), which actually became effective only for BNR and BNT. In 1998, a new Radio and Television Act was adopted, effective to this day, subject to innumerable amendments over the years.

[19] In 1997, eleven media NGOs united in Bulgarian Media Coalition including journalist trade union organizations, associations and foundations, including organizations of employers in the field of radio and the media.

[20] The first one covered the period 1995-1996 and involved journalists’ protests against censorship, followed by political dismissals. The second one, often referred to as the “radio drama” of 2000-2001, also entailed dismissals of journalists and evidence of exercised political pressure, including through independent in their ideas governance bodies, such as the regulatory body (the National Council of Radio and Television at the time).

[21] The Bulgarian private Darik Radio was launched as early as January 1993 and in 2000 obtained a national radio license; in various points of their existence, other Bulgarian radio stations also focused on information. In the 2001 competition for regional broadcasters, the National Council of Radio and Television gave priority to specialized programs while granting licenses to some of them with a pronounced talking focus, among which “Inforadio”, “Sport”, “NET”, etc.

[22] In the Reporters without Borders rating: 2002 – 38th place, 2003 – 35th place, 2004 – 36th place. For comparison – in 2015 – 106th place.

[23] In its decision, the UBJ noted that the reason was „lack of transparency and loyalty in the drafting of the bill on radio and television”, the dispute being underpinned by the idea underlying the draft law prepared by the BMC that the future Radio and Television state fund finance both public and private media active in “projects of public significance”. A year later, the famous European experts David Ward and Karol Jakubowicz also voiced serious doubt as to this idea.

[24] In the period 2001-2005 when the Parliament required and then delayed for a long time the adoption of the Sector Development Strategy prepared in compliance with the amendments to the Radio and Television Act of 2001 by the new regulatory body – the Council of Electronic Media (CEM).  

[25] In the period 2006-2008, three information radio stations (Inforadio, New Europe and Gong) were replaced with rock and folk programs (Star FM, Z Rock, Veronica) and one private talking radio station – Radio K2 – was launched.

[26] The Council of Electronic Media (CEM), the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC), the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC).

[27] For example, in late 2009, of the 8 vacant frequencies in the city of Pazardzhik announced in a competition, the regulator CEM gave 4 to the Communicorp media group (a current owner of 6 radio nationwide networks and one television), and the remaining 4 – to other 4 national radio networks. That is to say, in a city with three long broadcasting (Almatea, Dezh and Radio Pazardzhik) and two newly designed local radio stations (Katrig FM and Pulse FM), license was refused to all of them. Shortly before that, a similar situation was observed in the city of Pernik; in Pazardzhik and Pernik, people will listen to the same programs as in other cities.

[28] After the one with the highest rating, bTV and its bTV radio, after Bulgaria on Air in a sound version, in the course of creation of this text, Nova Television also launched its own TV based radio – Radio Nova News.

[29] We can effectively say that the actual empires owning (also) radio stations are four at the moment: Central European Media Enterprises, Communicorp Group Limited, New Bulgarian Media Group, Balkan Broadcasting. Powerful investors on the Bulgarian media market connected with Bulgarian advertising bosses and groups associated with political powers take part in their stabilization.

[30] For example, in 2013, Bulgaria on Air bought, and; Nova TV – Darik Net, Netinfo, Vbox7,,, etc.


[31] Baker, Andrea. Comparing the Regulatory Models of Net-Radio with Traditional Radio. International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society. Vol. 7, №1, 2009, pp. 1-14.

[32] Information database, built under the “Web Radio in Bulgaria” Project (2014) implemented by a team of the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, Radio and TV Department.

[33] Le souffle numérique renforce l’attrait des jeunes de 13 à 24 ans pour la radio. Audience. Médiamétrie, 2015.

Add Comment