April 29, 2024 3 min read

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Bulgarian Media Companies Rally Against Proposed Gambling Advertising Ban

A new bill aiming to ban gambling advertising on radio and TV has caused substantial controversy as industry stakeholders warn of its potential adverse effects

High-profile Bulgarian media companies have raised their voices in opposition to a proposed ban on gambling advertising, expressing concerns over its potential impact on media revenue streams and journalistic freedom. They criticized the government for lacking foresight, alleging that some parties would use the situation to influence the media space before the upcoming elections.

The Changes Could Do More Harm than Good

The new bill calls for a prohibition on gambling advertisements across various media platforms, including television, radio, newspapers, and online sites. While outdoor advertising in specific locations would still be permitted, the proposed ban has drawn criticism from media industry stakeholders who believe the bill does not aim to protect consumers but to suppress freedom of speech.

Former prime minister Nikolai Denkov highlighted the threat the ban poses to media outlets, emphasizing the significant revenue loss and increased dependency on other funding sources it could entail. He also drew attention to rising concerns about the potential suppression of media freedom, with industry experts warning against the adverse effects of legislative interference.

Let’s hope that (the proposal) is an oversight. The worse option is if somebody in a position of power – in this case, legislative power – is trying to strike a targeted blow against media freedom.

Nikolai Denkov, former PM

Leading journalists noted that social media platforms, banners, and targeted advertisements would remain unaffected, expressing concerns over the rising prevalence of underage gambling. They highlighted that vulnerable groups like children did not engage with traditional media, and the bill would only increase the prevalence of gambling ads in the digital space, exacerbating existing issues.

A Hit to Media Funding Could Hurt Journalistic Freedom

Leading media conglomerate Nova Broadcasting Group expressed apprehension over the ban’s impact on sports broadcasts, particularly those related to high-profile events like the European football championship. Similarly, Net Info group, which operates numerous popular websites in Bulgaria, underscored the potential hardships it would face without gambling-related revenues.

The Association of Bulgarian Broadcasters (ABRO) shared this opinion, cautioning against the ban’s implications for media sustainability, citing the importance of advertising revenue in supporting quality journalism. Meanwhile, the Technology Industry Alliance raised concerns about the ban’s feasibility in enforcing restrictions on internet platforms, citing potential conflicts with EU law.

As demonstrated in other European markets, advertising restrictions lead to an increase in unlicensed operators, consequently impairing the state’s ability to collect taxes from gambling activities and to provide adequate consumer protections.

Stilian Shishkov, Sportal Media Group CEO

As the debate over the proposed ban continues, affected parties are urging policymakers to consider the bill’s broader implications and either consider a substantial overhaul or cancel it. The outcome of the upcoming vote on the ban will likely shape the future landscape of gambling advertising regulation in Bulgaria, necessitating a careful and comprehensive approach.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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