The debut of the Television in Bulgaria was in 1959.
It was in 1954 that a team at the Technical University of Sofia (then called the Machine and Electro-Technics Institute) began to experiment with TV broadcasting, using two antennas for sound and image, up on the roof of a building in the city.
Through their dedication and hard work, they caught the attention of the Ministry of Communications, who then decided to build a broadcasting tower in Sofia and have a state controlled channel to air from this. The first broadcast to go out was unofficial on 1st November 1959, the first official broadcast happened on November 7th, with the commemoration of the Russian Revolution. The channel operated until the late 1960´s, and then the team began to work on the introduction of colour TV (the first colour broadcast went out in 1972). In 1960 a powerful transmitter was also installed at Botev Park, broadcasting to a large area of the country.
The new channel became known as The Bulgarian Television, and the attention of the public was gained fast, the number of brought and registered TV sets was on the increase gradually. With the popularity of the TV increasing, transmitters were placed in other cities, towns and villages too.
The first kinds of popular programs in Bulgaria were the news, and is still titled “Around the World and at Home”, which was the original title used back in the 1960“s, also the trademark opening image of a spinning globe animated in 1961, is still used although the animation has been modified. Other popular shows were sporting events broadcast LIVE from around the world, television theatre, music, New Years broadcasting, and children´s TV shows such as “Goodnight Children”.
In 1974 a second channel was added to the Bulgarian Television, logos were made available and the channels were named BT 1 and BT 2. It was not until the 1980´s that foreign and western programmes were allowed to be shown, including The Pink Panther cartoon, and in 1989 with the fall of communism what was shown on the TV channels changed noticeably, airing more US shows and movies and changing their channel names from BT 1 to Channel 1, and BT 2 to Efir 2 and changing the company name to “Bulgarian national Television”. Privately owned channels also began to appear, more associated with cable television.
Cable television came about in Bulgaria in the 1990´s and satellite chancels from around the world were one of the first main features of cable TV, and later on chancels such as MTV, Cartoon Network and The Discovery Channel became popular and more and more people began to sign up for cable TV networks, which was quite cheap in the early days. With advances in technology, channels built up year by year, with new channels surfacing, Bulgarian channels going out to other countries via satellite, and popular US/UK channels been broadcast & translated via subtitles or voice-dubbing in Bulgaria.
A list of Bulgarian TV channels is provided below:
Terrestrial (free-to-air channels with national coverage):
BNT 1 : first channel.
bTV : second channel. (later Efir 2)
Nova Television : third national TV network.
TV7 : forth national TV network.
Cable and/or Satellite
Bulgaria Kabel TV
Pop Core TV
MAD TV Bulgaria
The Voice TV Bulgaria
Travel TV Bulgaria
Foreign channels translated into Bulgarian
Channels marked with an asterisk (*) have a Bulgarian audio channel, all others have Bulgarian subtitles only:
Discovery Travel & Living
TV Guide Network*
Diva Universal (because of ongoing problems, this channel now broadcasts promos and advertising blocks in Romanian)
National Geographic Channel*
National Geographic Wild*
Travel Channel (UK)*
Viasat History *
Viasat Explorer *
Fine Living Network*
Disney Channel* (Not fully translated, everything not translated is in English)
Bulgarian Film Industry
Films have been produced in Bulgaria since way back in 1915, one of the most notable been “Vassil Gendov“s Balgaran e Galant” (translated as “The Bulgar is a Gentleman”, which was actually a remake of the earlier 1910 film), however this film was lost during a world war 2 bombing in Sofia. Gendov was one of the most well known and productive directors of the silent movie period and it was he who, in 1930, also produced the first sound in film.
Some other popular names from this period were Borislav Sharaliev (1922); Zako Heskia (1922); Vulo Radev (1923); Binka Zhelyazkova (1923); Hristo Ganev (1924); Nikola Korabov (1926); Hristo Hristov (1926); Hristo Piskov (1927); Rangel Vulchanov (1928).
In the 1930“s there was a boom in the film industry and it reaching public attention, more than 200 cinema halls throughout Bulgaria opened there doors to the public, most of them showing foreign films. Until the nationalisation of the Bulgarian film industry, only 55 films were made, and most of these were based upon or inspired by the literature of the 19th century.
However the first film after the government control seizure, was “Karin Orelat” produced in 1950 by Boris Borozanov, based upon a mix of patriotism and socialist realism. One of the most notable films of this period, is “Trevoga” (Alarm) by Zahari Zhandov, this portrating the contradictions of different loyalties between a family, set in world war two.
The first Bulgarian film to receive international recognition was “Na malkija ostrov” (On the Small Island) by Rangel Vulchanov in 1958. This film was the start of the “Poetic Realism” era, which was to become a popular genre in Bulgarian cinema, for almost the next decade. Many of the films were ruled by dictatorship, or used to support propaganda, and it was not until 1978 that Bulgarian film began to become a free to imagine and create sphere. The films at this time now began to be written and created from the director´s minds, rather than influenced by state rules and censorship. The turnaround of the film industry at this time was greatly noticed and 8 Bulgarian productions won prizes and recognition in the Film Festival circuits, a popular film of this time is “Trampa” (Swap) by Georgi Djulgerov.
On Bulgaria“s 1300th birthday in 1981, the government made an order for 5 movies on the history of Bulgaria. Full length features with a historical theme were made by directors, Georgi Stoianov (Constantine the Philosopher), Liudmil Staikov (Khan Asparukh), Borislav Sharaliev (Boris the first), Zahari Zhandov (Master of Boiana), and Georgi Djulgerov. All 5 movies were highly praised and millions of Bulgarians went out to see them, a number unprecedented today.
The film industry was now to be known as the “New Bulgarian Cinema” and films became a very popular part of everyday life, on screen and at festivals. The industry was producing 25 full length features a year, 25 TV movies, and over 200 short movies, shown in more than 3600 cinemas across Bulgaria. However with the collapse of communism, Bulgarian cinema suffered greatly, having little state financial support.