Bulgarian radio gets modern music back after dispute

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The Bulgaria National Radio Symphony OrchestraImage source, Wikimedia/Vladislava1306
Image caption,
Bulgarian National Radio saw its audience rise after it was forced to play mainly classical music

The public radio broadcaster in Bulgaria is able to play modern music for the first time in two months, now that a dispute over copyright which saw its ratings rise has been resolved.

Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) says that it has reached a deal with copyright body Musicautor, meaning that it can start playing music and songs recorded less than 70 years ago, the Novinite news website reports. With the bulk of Bulgarian popular music unavailable to BNR, it had been forced to play only classical and folklore songs recorded before 1946, alongside the few pop songs where the artist had granted the radio permission. Local group Signal gave BNR the rights to play their entire new album as a show of solidarity with the radio station, it was reported in January.

The dispute centred around the fees paid by BNR to Musicautor for music rights, which composers and song-writers claimed were only a third that paid by privately-owned radio stations - Musicautor had demanded 1.8m lev ($974,000; £784,000) for 2017, a three-fold increase. In the end, an agreement was reached where the fees are gradually increased over three years, BNR head Aleksandar Velev said.

However, BNR is now thinking twice about reverting to its old style of music programming in the aftermath of the new agreement. Balkan Insight reports that latest ratings show that its audience increased by around 20% during the dispute, and the new interest in classics could mean changes at the radio, including the possibility of new stations. "We will not change the profiles of the programmes, we will rather launch new channels with various types of music," BNR's Velev told reporters.

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