On 28 June 2018, the Bulgarian NCA ("CPC") published its report on the media sector inquiry conducted upon request of the Minister of Economy, Minister of Finance and Minister of Culture, in respect of a new draft law addressing media ownership and financing.
The sector inquiry covers all types of media and media service providers such as print media, media disseminated through electronic communication networks, online news services, etc. The CPC analysed the characteristics and structure of the media sector and respective segments, potential barriers to entry, market participants, level of market concentration, the applicable legislation and self-regulation in the sector during the years 2016 and 2017. The main findings of the CPC concerned potential unfair commercial practices on the TV market regarding the underreporting of subscribers by platform operators.
One of the key recommendations of the CPC includes the establishment of a public register providing information on the ultimate beneficial owners of all types of media and distributors of media content with emphasis on the disclosure of online media ownership. The regulator noted that the direction of the main part of budgets for advertisement to large media companies or economic groups which have presence on various media markets triggers the need for clear, transparent and non-discriminative rules in respect of financing with public funds of media companies. In this regard, the CPC in its analysis in particular referred to the competitive advantage of Nova Broadcasting Group which was also reason for an in-depth investigation of the acquisition of this company by PPF TMT Bidco 2 B.V (see below). Other recommendations include the necessity of discussions in respect of printed media distribution and adoption of legislative or self-regulation measures to address competition law concerns outside the competence of the regulator.