Dear colleagues from the media,

Dear members of the CEM,

Dear representatives of national and regional institutions in the Republic of Bulgaria,

Sofia, March 24, 2020

In a time of unprecedented crisis, businesses will not only pay a high price, but we will all rely on it to embrace its high social responsibility.

Responsible businesses support the emergency measures implemented by our government, but also initiate their own projects and work actively to help combat the COVID-19. Just a few good examples given by the business only for the last few days: donations for the purchase of respiratory equipment, equipment and consumables for hospitals that are at the forefront of the fight against the virus; protective equipment for law enforcement officers; creation of a fund for financing actions at a regional level in support of the medical sites; donation of personal hygiene items; opening access to services or increasing the volume of services for free use by customers so that they can stay at home, as required by the state of emergency and so much more.

Among the names of the fast-growing list are A1 Bulgaria, Alcomet, America for Bulgaria, Vivacom, Gurmenitsa, Kaufland, Liddle, City Bank, Tessy, Telenor Bulgaria, Unicredit Bulbank, Fantastico, Fikosota, Chaos Group and others. The list is growing and we are probably missing some. The important thing here is that these companies do all this unconditionally and their efforts deserve recognition. All these actions by businesses in a state of emergency are an additional burden on their current budgets, but they are doing it in the name of overcoming the growing crisis together. Moreover, they are aware that the post-crisis period will be difficult for all of us - institutions, business, media, NGOs – all of us with no exceptions.

Therefore, we believe that in a state of emergency it is time to rethink some of our previous attitudes. For years, business has been an active corporate citizen and as such deserves the names of socially responsible companies to be known. The names of these organizations must be made public and their stories must serve as an example and inspire. Today, they are doing more than usual because they are working outside their core business and doing so in the name of tackling the most serious health and economic crisis in the world so far.

Our request is that the names of these companies be mentioned in the news, programs and other formats in the electronic media. This would add information and value while it also brings inspiration for other businesses. This would also help every Bulgarian citizen in difficult times.

Mentioning the good doing of the companies does not contradict the regulations of the Radio and Television Act and the European directives. In order to facilitate this process and the assessment of the media, CEM Methodological Guidelines have been adopted in connection with the prohibited hidden commercial communications and the positioning of products as a form of commercial communication since May 2012. The admissibility of mentioning goods, services is clear- names, trademarks or activities of the manufacturer (in the form of speech or image), where this is for information purposes.

We find that hiding the names of companies today is a significant obstacle to the awareness and commitment of citizens, as well as to creating a sense of cohesion in this difficult time. We believe that one of the functions of the media, along with providing verified and factually accurate information and educating its audience, is to build trust in institutions and private business (to which they largely belong as well). Private businesses in our country - large, medium, small - is the main source of national wealth and prosperity, it pushes the economy, innovation and education forward. The absence in the news stream with business topics for significant success or for good done, creates an informational deficit. Therefore, we believe that now is the time to replace this practice with responsible media coverage, in which public interests and awareness are a priority.

We thank the media, which no longer clearly mention the names of corporate donors. But we expect feedback from those who are still worried about doing so. In fact, we will be extremely happy if in the coming days we start hearing more and more names of our and global donor companies in your news. Moreover, we will be happy for this normal practice to continue even after the health emergency situation in our country subsides.

With respect:

Iliana Zaharieva, Chairman of the Board of BDVO

Maria Gergova, Chairman of the Board of BAPRA

Nenad Lozovic, Chairman of the Board of BACA

Radosvet Radev, Chairman of BIA

Irina Yordanova, Director of Public Policies and Projects of CEIBG.

Miglena Uzunova-Tsekova, Chairman of UABM

Dr. Eng. Boryana Manolova, Chairman of the Board of SZHBB

Mihaela Maleeva, Executive Director of ASKO

Dr. Vanya Babanin, head of the Bulgarian branch of EAKD

Lubomir Blatski, chairman of the DPVOSBZ

Daniel Kiryakov, Chairman of the Commission for Professional Ethics at BDVO

Open Letter on Disclosure of the Names of the Donors - Companies and Individuals in the Electornic Media
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