BNT MAY HAVE TWO DIRECTORS AS OF JANUARY
The first hearing of the lawsuit, initiated by the former director general of the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) against his employers from the Council for Electronic Media (CEM), by a 5-member team of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) will be on December 17, the court's press service announced. On Monday (November 1) the CEM decided with six ayes and three abstentions to appeal the ruling of SAC's 3-member team to return Mr. Gotsev to his post in BNT. The ayes votes were those of CEM's Chairman Raicho Raikov, and his colleagues Margaritta Pesheva, Toma Ivanov, Liliya Raicheva, Marko Semov and Raina Ivanova. The abstentions were Maria Stefanova, Juliana Tocheva and Stefan Dimitrov. In March the CEM fired BNT's director due to his triple violation of the Radio and Television Act. In October, however, a 3-member team of the SAC ruled CEM did not have the right to dismiss Mr. Gotsev and pronounced his removal null and void. By law the SAC considers and extends a ruling on cases within a month term. If the 5-member team of the SAC proceeds with the lawsuit on December 17, in mid-January BNT may well wake up with two directors. Mr. Gotsev's mandate ends in March 2005 and the position is currently occupied by Ulyana Pramova, appointed by CEM last September. It is quite probable, however, that CEM's lawyer Todor Batkov finds a legal possibility to postpone the case. A similar trick was cooked up in the summer by CEM's Chairman Raicho Raikov, who declared initially he would be defending CEM's interests himself as the case was simple. But Mr. Raikov did not turn up at the first session and the lawsuit was postponed despite the protests of Mr. Gotsev's lawyer Ivan Todorov. By that move CEM gained three months. But they may not be sufficient and BNT could face one of the biggest gaffes in its history.