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17 Jan 13

Bulgaria Music Grant Hits Discordant Note

Sofia is in hot water over plans to give a large regional development grant to a broadcaster best known for its use of raunchy images to promote pop music. 

Bgnes, Euroaktiv, BBC
Plans by Bulgaria to give a flourishing pop music broadcaster an EU regional development grant worth 1 million euro have drawn the wrath of leading figures in the arts community.
Payner Media, which owns three pop-folk music TV channels, uses often sexually explicit images to promote a form of pop music known as chalga.
It has yet to receive the cash, but news of the award has already drawn protests from musicians and theatre directors. 
Payner promotes a form of pop music called chalga, known for its gangster image and often featuring scantily clad women. The style has been popular since the 1990s.
Mitko Dimitrov, head of Payner, was quoted on local television as saying that the grant would be used to create “new jobs for highly qualified experts, mostly young people”.
But leading arts figures in Bulgaria are far from impressed. Theatre director Alexander Morfov told BGNES news website: “This is monstrous.
“Is this the only culture we can show to the world in this idiotic country of ours?” he asked. 
Jazz pianist Antony Dontchev said the decision to give Payner EU money that was designed to help small businesses was “totally absurd”.
Brussels has said it will check to see whether grant scheme rules had been followed. 
Shirin Wheeler, spokesperson for EU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn, said the choice of the recipient was up to Bulgaria's economy ministry.
But the Commission took the job of safeguarding taxpayers’ money “very seriously”, she told the BBC. 
“If we have any concerns, we will of course ask the national authorities - in the first instance - to look more deeply,” she added.

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