More than BGN 20,000 has been paid by the Municipality of Shumen to various media under information service contracts in 2020. This becomes clear from a written response of the Mayor Lyubomir Hristov in connection with a question posed by three municipal councilors from the left party.
They submitted a special question to the administration to find out to whom and how much the Municipality of Shumen pays for media services. Although the expenditure of these funds should be public, its amount is kept secret from both taxpayers and municipal councilors.
The contracts for the so-called media services in Shumen are concluded
by decision of the Mayor Lubomir Hristov,
the opinion of the councilors is not sought and tendering procedures are not announced. Thus, the question: what criteria do the media approved for funding meet remains unanswered.
“The money for the media in Shumen is spent without sanction by the Municipal Council, while in other municipalities the contracts for media services are discussed by councilors and the standing committees, offers are collected from the media in order to have some basis for comparison. And with us we don’t know at all
what and to whom the mayor pays”,
commented on this occasion the municipal councilor Ventsislav Venkov / BSP /.
In 2020, the Municipality of Shoumen financed through contracts for information services only local media, unlike in previous years, when Mayor Hristov also paid to publications with a national audience. For 2020, contracts have been signed with totally 7 Shumen media.
The largest amount – BGN 4,000 were received by the sites Shum.bg, Shmoko and 24Shumen.
BGN 3,000 were paid to Radio Shoumen.
The sites Shumenonline and InfoShumen received BGN 2,000 each.
BTA has a contract with the local administration for BGN 1,020.
The total amount that the Municipality has paid under the concluded contracts in 2020 is a little over BGN 20 thousand, VAT excluded, the Mayor of Shumen has announced.
The comparison of data on funding provided to private media in other municipalities shows that those in Shumen have been assessed
“cheaper” than in Stara Zagora,
for example. There, for this and last year, the Municipality has concluded similar contracts worth BGN 653 thousand.
The Stara Zagora media are placed at the service of the local authority for far larger sums than the Shumen media, it is clear from the published information. Contracts for information and media services in Stara Zagora vary from BGN 10,000 to BGN 22,000 per year, and single publications are estimated in some cases at around BGN 1,000.
Otherwise, in Stara Zagora, as in Shumen, the decisions of whom to be paid for media services are taken individually by the mayor of the city. And there as well, the municipal councilors never discussed the amount of funds provided for the media.
Contracts for information services from municipal budgets are just one of official channels for
financing of media close to the authorities
with public funds and to ensure media comfort for the local authorities. In parallel with this, media financing is carried out through contracts with state and municipal enterprises, as it became clear from the case of ViK – Shumen.
The fact is that the regional media are surviving more and more difficult in almost impossible conditions. In addition to the lack of a normal advertising market, they also face
the pressure from local authorities,
which does not like critical publications and do everything possible to shut their mouth. It is a public secret that advertisers are afraid to appear in opposition media, whether national or regional. That is why media service contracts are a lifeline for regional publications, although it is clear to everyone that this turns them into PRs of the authorities.