Uproar about Set-To-Go Kids' Program on Bulgaria's Public TV

Society | September 7, 2002, Saturday // 00:00

At the beginning of what looks as a very busy political season, ten-minute children's TV program is making bumper headlines. "Good night, kids" or "Suncho" (Sleepy) as everybody calls it, runs just before the 8 o'clock news of Channel 1, one of two channels aired by the public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television (BNT). "Suncho" is now said to go off air, labeled "outdated" by top BNT executives. What explains the press sensation is the fact that this children's program has aired for 41 years. For all that long time, one half of the nation used "Suncho" to tuck the other half to bed instead of reading aloud a bedtime story.

The tune and the cartoon that have marked the beginning of "Suncho" have long become legendary, as have some of the actors playing the program's most popular heroes. "I feel sad, very sad that it has to go," Nikolay Fillipov, known to everybody as "Uncle Fillipov", the face of "Suncho" for more than twenty years, says.

The viewers themselves go a step further from just being sad, swarming the newspapers' Internet forums with angry comments. Some of the passionate fans suggested BNT's director obviously didn't have any children. "I have. And they don't watch it," Kiril Gotsev, BNT's Director General, answered back.

Gotsev had been looked upon as the "great innovator" when he was appointed to the director's post by the Council on Electronic Media a few months ago. The need for changes in Channel 1 programs is indeed dire as BNT faces the harsh competition of Bulgaria's first private TV broadcaster bTV and the numerous cables. But some of Gotsev's critics hint in his pioneer's approach he is going to cast to the waste bin everything that smacks of good old tradition. And 41 years on air definitely smell like one!

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