Police raid Bulgarian TV+ offices

Editor | 12-01-2013

In Bulgaria, as the trade war between satellite operator Bulsatcom and leading private TV channel bTV about price rates reached a climax, another twist was added, as economic police officers raided the offices of television channel TV+.

“At the end of December we were informed about possible tax evasion by double entry bookkeeping practised by TV+,” prosecutor Rumiana Arnaudova said, adding that in her view employees of TV+ could have obtained part of their salaries officially, and the rest backhandedly.

Some commentators in Bulgarian media and internet forums doubt the official reason for the raid. They point to the fact that double entry bookkeeping is one of the most popular business crimes in Bulgaria, and suggest there could be a direct link between the raid at TV+ and the Bulsatcom/bTV controversy, in which the state could side in favour of bTV.

TV+ is widely regarded as an affiliate of Bulsatcom, but Mladenka Tchalova, marketing director with Bulsatcom, denies this: "Don't confuse TV+ with Bulsatcom - they are totally different companies,” she said.

Bulsatcom founded TV+ in 2005 and sold it three years later because Bulgarian legislation doesn't allow satellite or cable operators to own content-producing media. Today TV+ belongs to the public company BG Sat, which owns also the TV channels Film+ and Hobby TV. Even today Bulsatcom and TV+ reside in the same building.

Bulsatcom´s plans to enter the market for mobile telecommunications and become the fourth national player in it, are a possible explanation for the recent difficulties it has faced, according to Paulina Mihailova, editor of the Kapital Daily newspaper, regarded as one of the most reliable print media in Bulgaria. ”Days after it was publicly announced that Bulsatcom has got a loan of BGN41.7 million to build up a GSM 4 net its problems began," she wrote.