The Film Industry Act
The current Film Industry Act was adopted in 2003. It addresses issues related to the production, distribution, promotion and screening of films in the country, as well as state support for the film industry. The law prioritises as a state policy:
• The right of public access to various forms of filmmaking;
• Protecting the rights and interests of viewers;
• Supporting new talent and young authors;
• Presentation of Bulgarian cinema in the country and abroad; and
• Creation of conditions for work of foreign film productions in Bulgaria.
With the implementation of the Film Industry Act (2003), the National Film Centre was founded, with an Executive Agency under the Minister of Culture. It operates the National Cinema Council, the National Arts Commission, the National Film Categorisation Commission, the National Technical Commission and the Finance Commission. The Act also regulates the licensing of film producers and cinemas.
The subsidy for the Agency is provided annually by The Law on the State Budget of the Republic of Bulgaria. According to the changes made in 2018, the annual amount of the subsidy cannot be less than the sum of the average budgets of the previous year for seven feature films, fourteen feature-length documentaries and 160 minutes of animation. It also provides funding for national festivals, organised by the Agency.
In November 2018, the National Assembly voted for amending the Film Industry Act. The regulation in the country was synchronised with the Regulation 651/2014 of the European Commission concerning the allocation of state funding for cinema. The changes were made almost a year late – the National Film Center had a four-year period (from early 2014 to December 31st, 2017) to state new funding rules. Due to the delay, the National Film Centre was denied the right to allocate funds to already approved projects and Bulgarian cinema was threatened with having to record zero years.
One of the major changes is related to the distribution of Bulgarian films, as prescribed by the Regulation: distributors have to appear to a finance committee and an artistic committee. As in production, the goal is to guarantee the quality of the content.
Discussions are taking place in 2019 to reform the already outdated Film Industry Act (2003). Currently, there is a draft law that is expected to be adopted by the end 2019 and enter into force in 2020. The purpose of the changes is to attract more foreign production.
One of the ideas is to return 25%, or up to EUR 2.5 million, of the funds invested in Bulgaria to foreign producers. It is also envisaged that the national budget will allocate EUR 20 million for stimulation of cinema.
In this moment, the ‘analogue’ Law on Radio and Television (1999) is still into force in Bulgaria. It sets the following programming quotas:
• At least 50% of the total annual programme time for European and Bulgarian programming, excluding newscasts, sports show, game shows on radio and TV, commercials and the radio and TV market, if possible.
• Bulgarian National Television must allocate at least 10% of the National Budget subsidies and Radio and Television Fund subsidies for the production of Bulgarian television films. Blank tape levies are regulated by Article 26 of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (1993). Electronic Communications Act (2007), which regulates the field related to communications via electronic means and the interrelations among the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) and the Council of Electronic Media (CEM) in the area of digital radio broadcasting. It also regulates the individual licensing for broadcasting. .
The Law on Radio and Television is in line with the European Directive 2007/65 / EC (Audiovisual Media Services Directive). The amendments extend the scope of the regulation to introduce the concept of ‘audiovisual media services and radio services’ and the mode of regulation of commercial communications.
In 2019, a debate took place to reform the Law on Radio and Television (1999). The idea is that it should include online websites as well. The changes are necessary because of the European Audiovisual Media Services Directive, adopted in 2018. Bulgaria has until September 2020 to transpose it into its national legislation.