Billboards in Sofia Cause New Turbulences

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The end of the three-year saga about the redistribution of outdoor advertising market in Sofia again is nowhere near to be seen. During the week, Mayor Yordanka Fandakova refused to sign the listing produced by the competition for the management of billboards and returned it to the commission asking them to reach full consensus. The reason for this is that the municipal councilor of the socialist party, Evgeni Bonchev, and head of sector Advertising in the Municipality Panayot Radev, have signed the protocol with a dissenting opinion. But they never explained what the reasons for this were.

It is entirely in the hands of the mayor to decide whether to issue an order for signing contracts or to accept that dissenting opinions are a heavy burden, commented Chairman of the Municipal Council Elen Gerdjikov, who heads the committee and the competition procedure. Now the committee will have to reassess all documents and to propose new classification, but it is unclear how long this procedure may take.

The competition has been ongoing since past summer, after having suffered several false starts. The reason for the delay of the competition on the one hand were local elections, and the number of complaints that some of the candidates submitted. Otherwise, a total of 28 companies turned up. They compete to take over the outdoor advertising in the capital in the next ten years. The locations for installing the facilities are divided into two sets of ten items – for small facilities up to 4 square meters and billboards of up to 12 square meters.

Candidates could participate for up to three of the 20 positions, so that the city may avoid the creation of a monopoly on the market. So billboards in Sofia will be divided into at least seven companies. The specific schedule for the deployment of ad units on municipal property provide most places for panels of up to 4 square meters, and billboards of up to 12 square meters that would be about 400.

From the proposed protocol it became clear that four companies related to advertising tycoon Georgi Gergov have won eight positions. Nine companies, close to Dilyana Grozdanova (Lubomir Pavlov’s wife) won nine positions. The other successful candidates who were selected for the last three items are registered under the Law on Obligations and Contracts Epamedia – Idea Comm which is unofficially associated with Delian Peevski as well as Sofia Outdoor. The ones that dropped out were the consortium Blue Star Outdoor , Radeia, ABB Engineering, Billboard Motion Arts, Consortium Bum and Argento-Remedy.

Thus, with the billboards in Sofia there will be chaos for at least a few more months. In practice, after the expiration of old contracts in 2009 and the annexes to extend them until October 2010, and companies continue in good faith to pay the municipality the right to advertise on their sites. Amounts are symbolic and that’s why nobody wants to sign new contracts because then rents will swell considerably (though not as much as originally foreseen). Of course, the municipality is to blame for this absurd situation. True, district mayors made some timid attempts to dismantle part of illegal ads, but the effect was dubious.



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