National Network for Children becomes part of the civic initiative of Lachezar Velinov from the Association of Bulgarian Animation Producers to transform one of the channels of the Bulgarian National Television into a specialized Bulgarian children’s public channel.
What’s the point?
19% of the population of Bulgaria is made up of children and young people up to 19 years old. According to the International Institute of Educational Sciences, children watch an average of 4 hours and 29 minutes of television each day. BNT, in the channels BNT1, BNT2, BNT 3 and BNT4, for the maintenance of which it receives a state subsidy, provides a total of 1 hour and 19 minutes of children’s content, and children’s programs in total occupy only 1.38% of the program time of public television (the data is from the official page of BNT, program for May 30 – June 5, 2022). According to Council for Electronic Media reports, BNT1 systematically does not fulfill its license in the part of children’s and youth programs. There is not a single children’s broadcast television in Bulgaria, which means that only children from families who can afford it have access to children’s television in the Bulgarian language.
All this is discriminatory and leads to (beyond numerous other negative effects) deficits in the acquisition of the Bulgarian language, integration and formation of cultural values in vulnerable social and ethnic groups. According to the Trust for a Social Alternative, about 20% of children starting 1st grade have a mother language other than Bulgarian and varying degrees of proficiency in Bulgarian at the time of entering school. The operation of an on-air Bulgarian children’s television could improve the levels of Bulgarian language proficiency of these children at a much earlier stage and resp. to increase their achievements and their interest in the learning process.
That is why the National Network for Children is actively involved in the cause to transform one of the channels of the Bulgarian National Television into a specialized Bulgarian children’s public channel.
How will funding be provided?
According to the methodology adopted by the Council of Ministers, one hour of television time from April 1, 2022 costs BGN 2,184, with a total volume of television programs of 35,040 hours. BNT receives a subsidy for the maintenance of 4 channels with a 24-hour program. Respectively, public television could use the budget to maintain one of its channels – e.g. BNT3, and to transform the channel into a specialized children’s channel, without incurring serious additional costs. In other words, the issue of a Bulgarian broadcast children’s channel is primarily an organizational one, not a financial one.
How will content be provided?
BNT is a member of the European Union for Radio and Television and has access to international co-productions with many public television stations, as well as access to cultural and educational programs for children produced by other member television stations. Also, BNT has a rich archive of its own children’s shows and a tradition of producing high-quality children’s content. We at NNC firmly believe that BNT can and should continue to produce quality Bulgarian children’s content, including to actively attract Bulgarian artists to create original productions aimed at the children of Bulgaria.
Why is it important to put the initiative on the agenda now?
After the unsuccessful election of a new general director of BNT, the next procedure is to be announced. We at NNC believe that it is important, within the framework of the new procedure, to place a special focus on the idea of ABAP for the establishment of a Bulgarian broadcast children’s channel. Therefore, in the coming months we will actively initiate a dialogue with the Council for Electronic Media and with all candidates for general director, with the aim of introducing them to the cause of children’s public television and for it to find a place in the programs of the candidates for directors of BNT.
It is high time for Bulgaria to have children’s public television. We continue to inform you about the citizens’ initiative.