BULGARIAN WEBBY AWARDS: SCARCE PARTICIPATION AND UNEXPECTED WINNERS
In the sixth edition of the traditional 2004 BG Site contest the INTERNET website of HVB Bank Biochim was awarded by the audience in the Finances category. In the same category the jury's big award went to the website of the insurer Bulstrad. Nine companies competed for the two awards and four of them were in the finals after the jury's nomination: Bulstrad, the finance and investment company Benchmark, the investment intermediary STS Finance, and the eponympous insurance portal. The audience did not have to take into consideration the opinion of experts. That explains the award to HVB Bank Biochim's website, which was not even nominated by the jury. The prize awarding ceremony was held on Monday (November 1). There were fifteen categories this year in which a total of 178 websites competed. The ruling party's www.ndsv.bg was a contender in the Government and Law category, but lost by the website of the Chief Tax Administration in the jury's voting and by that of the Sofia Municipality in the audience voting. The 16-member jury included executives and experts in some of the most famous software companies in the country. The impartiality of the vote was arbitrated by the international consultants PriceWaterhouse Coopers, which assists the organizers for a fourth year in succession.In the other categories an impressive triumph was that of the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) in the News section. The INTERNET site of the BNR was one of the three that won both possible prizes in its categories. Last year the webby of the State-run Bulgarian News Agency swept the jury's award in a similar category. The sixth edition of the contest was obviously better organized than all till now and more money was invested in it than before. For the first time the preparation and holding of the competition was not undertaken by a private company, but by the Bulgarian Web Association, which has been organizing for two years now the INTERNET forums of the international TV World festivals in the Albena resort. The association is chaired by Petko Karamochev, Manager of the specialized company Smac Media, believed to be owned by the ads boss Krassimir Gergov. On Monday the Bulgarian Web Association was also backed by its colleagues from the Association of Advertising Agencies in the country, whose Executive Director Mariana Brashnarova handed one of the statuettes in the contest. The categories of competition were six more than in 2003, which certainly made thing easier for the contenders. The audience was impressed that BTC-net, the subsidiary of the event's major sponsor - the recently privatized telecom BTC, was not awarded in its category Services. During the awarding ceremony the organizers announced several times that the members of the jury did not vote in the sections where they participate or if they were connected with any of the contenders in any way. The organizers have made efforts that the prize awarding ceremony looks like a show as much as possible. It was attended by several prominent persons, among them Jordan Jovchev, Bulgaria's gold medallist at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. On the background of the excellent impression of transparency in choosing the winners, the comparatively weak participation was not so pleasant. Although 178 participants may not be so small a number, it seems scarce when compared to the more than 1,000 contenders, participating in the debut editions of the webby contest. It's a fact that each year the organizers raise the lath by introducing fees for participation and complicated criteria, such as that the website should be in Bulgarian and nothing in it to contradict the Copyrights and Related Rights Act. The latter, especially, is a problem for many who would take part in the contest. At the same time, it is true that the term for entering (July 15 - September 30) is more than sufficient for carrying out an ads campaign that would make more serious companies measure swords in the contest, which has a solid history already and has an excellent opportunity to become the Bulgarian equivalent of the International Webby Awards.