CNN Intl Links with New Bulgarian TV, CEO - Controversial, Pro-Govt Journalist
Turner Broadcasting System Europe Limited, parent company of CNN International, has inked a broadcast affiliate agreement with soon-to-launch Bulgarian channel News7.
The deal was announced Thursday by TBS International president Gerhard Zeiler, and Nikolai Barekov, CEO for BBT, who previously worked as an anchor for bTV and TV7 channels and has gained a controversial reputation.
The deal provides News7 with exclusive access to a range of video and newsgathering resources from CNN International including live breaking news feeds, news stories and programming.
As part of the CNN affiliate group, News7 will give CNN access to its own reporting from Bulgaria gathered by teams based in the country's capital Sofia and in regional hubs.
CNN will also provide "consultancy, training and operational support for the channel's launch phase and beyond, marking an additional and exclusive dimension to the affiliate agreement."
The deal is a first for CNN in Eastern Europe.
"This agreement signals not only our ongoing commitment to developing the CNN affiliate business, but also our interest in supporting local news operations with consultancy and training to help them deliver a quality product for their audiences," said Zeiler.
"While the channel will have entire editorial responsibility for its output, operationally we welcome the opportunity to work with this exciting new entrant into the Bulgarian news market."
"Working with Turner to access CNN expertise as well as content will help News7 realize its goal to develop Bulgaria's first fully HD channel, with the ability to provide 24-hour news coverage, which will become the leader in providing exclusive first-class news content."
Barekov is believed to have connections with New Bulgarian Media Group, best known for explicitly and excessively praising the government of the GERB party and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
The group media outlet are also generally known for not voicing any criticism of the DPS party or of the Bulgarian Socialist Party by adopting a "no mention" policy.
Barekov triggered a scandal in February this year after tearing to pieces an issue of the Trud daily on air, while hosting his morning show on TV7 TV channel.
He called the newspaper "a rug" and said that it would cease to exist.
The unprecedented and brutal act was part of the war between the owners of the two media.
Barekov staged the provocation to demonstrate his attitude towards Bulgaria's policy in the pharmaceutical sector, which came under fire after publications claiming that Sopharma, a major Bulgarian drug maker, was selling its products way cheaper in Turkey, Serbia and Poland.
Ognyan Donev, majority owner of Sopharma, was a co-owner of Trud daily at the time.
Bulgaria's media watchdog – the Council for Electronic Media (SEM) - reviewed the incident, but after long discussions finally concluded that Barekov's newspaper-bashing did not constitute a violation of the Radio and Television Act.