The interview of Agency Director Zoran Trajchevski given to the FOKUS Radio, Republic of Bulgaria

The Director of the Agency, Mr. Zoran Trajchevski, and Ms. Maria Stoyanova, Chair of the Bulgarian Council for Electronic Media had a joint interview on 16 September 2016 for the “This is Bulgaria” edition of FOKUS Radio, in the Republic of Bulgaria. The entire interview can be read below.

Maria Stoyanova and Zoran Trajchevski: We are establishing the start of a good and mutually useful cooperation between the media regulators of Bulgaria and Macedonia

Maria Stoyanova and Zoran Trajchevski: We are establishing the start of a good and mutually useful cooperation between the media regulators of Bulgaria and Macedonia


Radio host: The Council for Electronic Media (CEM) is the host of the official visit aimed at exchanging good practices with the colleagues from Macedonia. During the visit, which is going to last until 17 September 2016, the two regulating authorities will exchange experiences obtained from the monitoring of election campaigns, which await both regulators –and this very soon. As you know, Bulgaria is to have the regular presidential elections, and in Macedonia will hold early parliamentary elections on 11 December. We have Ms. Maria Stoyanova, CEM Chair, and Mr. Zoran Trajchevski, Director of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services. Ms. Stoyanova, this is a first visit of this kind. How did you come by the decision to realize it?

Maria Stoyanova: It was a spontaneous idea, which could be carried out also thanks to the very good personal contacts we have with the Director of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Zoran Trajchevski. We spoke together a long time ago that it is necessary to ignore the stereotypes existing in both countries and establish cooperation on a professional basis. It is with this common goal that we approached the realization of this meeting, which happens to be the first, but will certainly not be the last.

Radio host: Mr. Trajchevski, what are your views here at this visit to Bulgaria?

Zoran Trajchevski: By visiting Bulgaria, we would like to build closer relations with our counterparts from the Bulgarian regulatory authority, so that we could have daily communication, considering that the working conditions in Bulgaria and Macedonia are rather similar and it would be beneficial to learn about both the positive and the negative experiences of Bulgaria, as well as share our experiences from Macedonia. This is a way to help each other to function more efficiently, avoid the shortcomings that either we or you here in Bulgaria have experienced so as not to repeat the mistakes made here or in our country, and also to share information. By communicating on a daily basis, we will help each other significantly in our work. It would be good to expand mutual cooperation – not to boil it down only to relations between the two regulators but to try and do the same with the other countries in the region, so that the mutual relations between the two regulators would become the reason for an even greater cooperation in the entire region. This is in the interest of all of us, as similar conditions for work would be created.

Radio host: Mr. Trajchevski, what problems do you expect to find solutions for here, or at least use an experience that would help you find a solution?

Zoran Trajchevski: The problems in the entire region, including Bulgaria and Macedonia, are the same, especially in the area of minors’ protection, the sphere of show programmes and reality programmes such as the “Big Brother” or “The Farm”, as well as all other projects broadcasted in all the countries of the region. For us, it is also important to see how the period before and during elections is being regulated in Bulgaria, since you are an EU member country – to see this and be able to convey certain practices from the EU regulation. Further on, to present, as a regulating authority, part of our own experience with positive practices we have achieved albeit we are not an EU member. When it comes to media in particular, we have legislation that has been harmonized with the European one, owing to the methodological and financial aid from the European Commission. We would like to present the results of our positive experience to our counterparts at the Bulgarian regulating authority. Although we are not an EU member state, still we have been operating at a very high professional level, we have indeed a significant financial and political independence, and so, we will be able to communicate our good practices to our regulating counterparts – the Council for Electronic Media. We hope that, at today’s meeting in the Bulgarian Parliament, we managed to acquaint your MPs with the positive practices from Macedonia in the sphere of media independence, so that they could bear this in mind when preparing the future law on media, that is to enter the Bulgarian Parliament.

Radio host: Whatare your first impressions from Bulgaria?

Zoran Trajchevski: Good. I cannot say that I have first impressions, considering the fact that I travel to Bulgaria quite often. I come to Bulgaria for skiing several times a year. So – this is not my first time here.

Radio host: Is this why you chose now to pay your first official visit?

Zoran Trajchevski: The visit was agreed upon and organized some time ago with the Chairwoman of the Bulgarian CEM, Ms. Maria Stoyanova. We had been speaking about this visit for quite some time at various forums, organized within the framework of the European Commission. It is important that this does not turn out to be just an accidental meeting, but a lasting communication practice, but that it evolves into a permanent tradition where we would have meetings of the two regulators – the Bulgarian and the Macedonian ones – at least several times a year. I hope I will manage to bring this type of relations up at a broader level, in the Balkan region.

Radio host: Mr. Trajchevski has just suggested to me the next question, for Ms. Maria Stoyanova. Ms. Stoyanova, will you accept this idea to expand the meeting, so that [this cooperation] does not stay at the bilateral level but be established among the media regulatorsof the entire region?

Maria Stoyanova: Mr. Trajchevski is absolutely right that we – the countries from the Balkan region – are extremely close. Unfortunately, we do not know each other so well. And, unfortunately, this is the reason why we do not have an exceptionally close cooperation, as is the case in the other parts of the Old Continent. It is important not just to know each other, but to learn about each other and take it from there to build – to develop, so that the media environment not only in our country but in the remaining countries of the region as well, could evolve. Since our countries are small and our markets are extremely limited and narrow, a supranational, regional cooperation among the creative industries of different countries would be a good basis for development. And this is what I and Mr. Trajchevski aim for in our work.

Radio host: Is convergence of the media markets in the region possible, or is it still only utopia?

Maria Stoyanova: We are not talking about convergence of the media markets, considering the fact that neither we, nor any other regulator in the Old Continent is a commercial regulator by content. What we are talking about is realization of more frequent contacts, carrying out mutual cooperation among the representatives of various sectors in separate countries. Our states are close; the distance is short. Languages do differ, but we understand each other more or less.

Radio host: At the moment we are having this talk without an interpreter.

Maria Stoyanova: This is not about the Republic of Macedonia. You asked me about regional cooperation. When I talk about it, I also have in mind our counterparts from Croatia, the counterparts from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina – and, why not, Greece and Montenegro as well. It turns out that, in the Balkan region there are only two of us that are EU member states. It is us and the counterparts from the Republic of Croatia. So, we will have what to contribute together. It is a fact that, even when we meet at international forums, we approach each other hesitantly. It appears that communication with the counterparts from the EU member states is easier than the communication among us. In fact, we do not know each other well. And this – to get better acquainted with each other – would give an impulse not only to our mutual relations but to the media industries as well, because it is clear that media contents are no longer being used only within the narrow boundaries of one state.

Radio host: From a legislative point of view, how can we be of use to Macedonia? They are now facing elections – early parliamentary ones.

Maria Stoyanova: In this regard, the regulator is in essence the competent body when it comes to the normative framework. However, the states differ, we have an obligation in terms of the normative provisions not only in our country, but, as has already been said, at the level of the Audio and Audiovisual Services Directive. These are things that we, the regulators, do not formulate by ourselves. At the European level we had a chance, we had the opportunity and we used it to work actively on changing the Directive – something that happens for the first time in Bulgaria since it became and EU member state. And precisely this active position we had provided us with an opportunity to help a country as Macedonia become an observer of this process, although it is not a member and did not have a candidate status. This kind of cooperation is extremely important, because it makes it possible for our counterparts to follow our work from up close, so that they could adjust their legislation even before they become membership candidates.

Radio host: This is an exceptionally helpful move, Mr. Trajchevski.

Zoran Trajchevski: Yes, it is. I would like to say that no one can be at a loss from working together, cooperating. The exchange of information would help the nations in the two states to know each other better. If we do not have communication and do not exchange information, it may happen, once in every two or three months, that some negative news, which is of no use to any of the two states, is assigned enormous importance. But, if we have closer cooperation and exchange information between ourselves, so as to know what is happening in Sofia, in Pernik, in Kjustendil or Varna, what is happening in the political, economic, social sphere in both Bulgaria and in Macedonia, no one would pay attention to such negative information coming from any of the two sides. It appears that, in the absence of appropriate neighbourly information, we assign great importance to the negative situations that do not have the support of one of the countries or the other, and this creates an impression that the states do not have good cooperation, that they have strained relations. In reality, this is not the case. Therefore, exchange of information is a very positive thing, as it helps eliminate various personalities, political parties or groups of people who only in the absence of communication can create negative situations that burden the relations between the two states.

Radio host: You come to Bulgaria often, but you are in the studio of FOKUS Radio for the first time. CEM Chair Ms. Maria Stoyanova, is our frequent collocutor, but she too is our guest for the first time. How do both of you feel in our studio?

Zoran Trajchevski: Fantastic.

Maria Stoyanova: This is a great thrill for me, because my professional path started right from the radio as a medium. I have not been inside a radio studio for a long time, I rejoice this opportunity immensely and I thank you for it, because, for any person who has access to this medium, regardless of the fact that now there is another technology – the Internet – the radio remains the most operative media outlet that reaches the auditorium in the most trustworthy and fastest way. Thus, the thrill remains.