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Specialist Guide to the

Global Leaders in Media Law Practice

BULGARIA

TIER 1

One of the largest firms in Bulgaria, Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov is widely described by peers as one of the most prominent. The full service firm is known for its transactional work in the TMT sector and advice to entertainment and sports clients. Lawyers have particular experience advising cable broadcasters, film producers, advertisers and publishers in the area of financing, rights acquisition and regulation.


Dimitrov, Petrov & Co has a reputation for excellence in the area of privacy and personal data protection. Lawyers, who clients describe as “extremely competent and very responsive”, advise on cross-border compliance, corporate restructurings and e-commerce. Under the leadership of Hristo Nihrizov the firm acted for an international television broadcaster on matters including privacy policies, compliance, licensing and content requirements. Lawyers also represent clients with success before the local media regulation authority.


Gugushev & Partners has developed an established position in the market and is rising as one of the region’s most widely respected practices. Founding partner Stefan Gugushev has exceptional experience advising a broad range of clients and leads the team in its advice on broadcasting, programming and regulation.  Working with peers, leading lawyer Petko Angelov advises on advertising, sponsorship and licensing matters.


Established in 1988, Kambourov & Partners has a long-standing presence in Bulgaria and equal focus on the TMT sector. Mitko Karushkov manages the team which is notably known for its work on large scale corporate structuring of radio and television operators and structuring of products and services. The firm also has a significant number of instructions from media and entertainment clients including motion picture producers, television companies, theatre and publishing companies.


TIER 2

Arsov Natchev Ganeva’s specialisation in media and sports is local and global. Lawyers act for foreign media companies acquiring local media entities, advise on licensing and administrative procedures and represent clients in cases of intellectual property. The team assisted entrepreneurs with establishing and acquiring sports clubs in Bulgaria while ensuring compliance.


Boyanov & Co has a prominent reputation and is known by peers for its expansive client portfolio. The firm focusses on media and telecommunications with advice to broadcasters ranging from regulatory and licensing to bids and auctions. Leading practitioners include Damian Simeonov and Peter Petrov who advise on complex due diligence connected with mergers and acquisitions.


Ilieva, Voutcheva & Co has a background in media work that includes the establishment of a crowd-funding scheme for feature film production. The firm acts for multiple clients on film and video production, financing and distribution of media products and newspaper and magazine publishing. Lawyers also advise on cross-media ownership, interactive media and copyrights issues.


With a media and advertising specialisation, Kalaidjiev, Georgiev & Minchev advises on the issuance of licences for telecommunication activities, broadcasting and television production. The firm’s media lawyers draft agreements for advertising campaigns and media planning. Lawyers also litigate in cases connected with copyright and related rights.


TIER 3

Eurolex Bulgaria affirms its position in the legal market with a steady influx of corporate instructions from media clients that include television and radio operators. The team advises on licensing, distribution and regulation. Severina Liubenova manages the media group, which acts for newspapers and other printed publications, advertising agencies and website operators.


CMS is one of the few international firms that has established a strong position in the legal market. The firm’s technology, media and communications group works across a number of jurisdictions on substantial transactions advising broadcast clients. Working in collaboration with the commercial team, media lawyers assist with distribution agreements, commercial contracts and data protection.  


TIER 4

The primary focus at Borissov & Partners is on intellectual property, telecoms and technology - from which media and entertainment cases stem. The firm works on a range of matters from franchising, licensing and dispute resolution to advice on radio frequency spectrum and geo-stationary orbit. Managing partner Plamen M. Borissov leads the practice, specialising in media and neighbouring segments.


Combining transactional and commercial expertise, Penev advises on cross-border cases, regulatory compliance and lobbying. The TMT group also assists with data protection, privacy and licensing. In highlighted work the firm advised a leading US radio broadcasting company on an acquisition deal in Bulgaria. The firm is also appointed by internet and e-commerce companies.


Popov & partners regularly assists broadcasters with registration, programming and distribution agreements. Led by managing partner Emiliyan Lubomirov Arnaudov, the team advised a pay-television operator on distribution rights, rights holders on copyright levy and advertising industry clients. Angel Stefanov Buzalov is among key practitioners highlighted by competitors.


TIER 5

Mandzhukova, Shopov, Petrov Law Firm acts for TMT clients from publishing and online segments. The full service practice is managed by Asya Mandzhukova, Milen Shopov and Roumen Petrov who are established practitioners in the local legal market. The team runs an advisory and transactional practice that also works with clients form the entertainment sector.


Tsvetkova Bebov & Partners focusses on data protection and copyright. The team drafts licensing and transfer agreements, advises on mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructuring. Lawyers also assist with data protection compliance and represent clients before the courts.

TIER 1

Djingov, Gouginski, Kyutchukov & Velichkov

Dimitrov, Petrov & Co

Gugushev & Partners  

Kambourov & Partners  


TIER 2

Arsov Natchev Ganeva

Boyanov & Co

Ilieva Voutcheva & Co   

Georgiev, Todorov & Co

Kalaidjiev, Georgiev & Minchev


TIER 3

Eurolex Bulgaria

CMS  

Penkov, Markov & Partners

Schoenherr

Velchev & Co.  


TIER 4

Borissov & Partners

Penev

Popov & Partners  

Tocheva & Mandazhieva Law Office


TIER 5

Kolcheva, Koev & Partners - Novel   

Mandzhukova, Shopov, Petrov

Tsvetkova Bebov Komarevski

Wolf Theiss

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It remains to be seen what changes this consolidation will cause in different markets. One of the expected outcomes is a drastic change in marketing budgets for the TV networks.


Logic dictates that each owner will refrain from advertising its mobile network on the TV channels of the competitor.  


The second trend with a potential long-lasting effect is in the area of measuring TV audiences. For years, there were two entities providing contradicting data on the preferences of viewers. Reliable data is important for determining the value of TV advertising. Having one provider could be considered a step in the right direction.


However, it does not solve the issues between the stakeholders involved – networks, advertising agencies and companies interested in advertising. All of them continue to have different views and bias on the popularity of various TV channels.


There seem to be two possible solutions – an independent audit of the existing provider or agreeing on a new procedure for finding a new company that will measure viewership. We are yet to see which of the two solutions will be adopted.


Written by

Yoanna Ivanova & Ivan Nachev

Gugushev & Partner Law Office

Even during a pandemic, the Bulgarian media and telecommunications industries had a dynamic 2020. The first major development was connected with the ownership of the two biggest private TV networks in the country - BTV and Nova.


The story actually began a couple of years earlier when holding PPF was close to buying Nova. The deal was surprisingly denied by the Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition with motives of a possible distortion of competition due to a significant increase of  market shares.


Two years later, in October 2020, PPF acquired BTV without any complications from the Commission. With this deal, PPF controls a major TV network in four EU countries – Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.


What makes the deal even more interesting is the fact that the same holding company owns one of the three licensed mobile network operators in Bulgaria. A TV network and a mobile operator having the same ownership is something that has not happened in the country before. But could it become a trend?


According to media reports United Group, a large telecom company that also owns a mobile operator in Bulgaria, is close to acquiring the other major TV network - Nova.


It should be noted that at the time of writing the deal has not been closed. However, the possible deal reveals a pattern of large international companies becoming interested in owning both a TV network and a mobile network operator in Bulgaria.