The Bulgarian national commercial broadcaster bTV is to be investigated by the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) for allegedly unfair competition on the basis of contracts with the Bulgarian Sports Tote (BST).
Capital reports that this follows a complaint from its main competitor Nova TV claiming that bTV on the one hand sells part of its programming time to BST and broadcasts a hidden commercial message and on the other increases the commercial airtime on TV. This is currently limited to 12 minutes an hour by law but in practice often exceeded.
It is also alleged that for the past two years BST paid bTV a fee for broadcasting the TV show Sport Toto, which could also be considered a form of advertising.
Capital says that Nova decided to refer the matter to the CPC following the publication of photos of contracts between bTV Media Group and BST. They appeared in the title Blitz.
Significantly, this came at the same time as the main owner of the National Lottery published a memo from a meeting with one of the owners of Nova recording an advertising budget of BGN20 million (€10.2 million) a year, with the full support of the State Gambling Commission and in compliance with Bulgarian law.
bTV is currently owned by Central European Media Enterprises (CME), whose interests in CEE are in the process of being sold to PPF Group.
Meanwhile, Nova TV has been under new ownership since early last year, having previously been backed by Modern Times Group (MTG).