|Title||The politics of DTT policy-making in Bulgaria: the significance of path dependencies and institutional characteristics|
This thesis examines the politics of the policy process concerning the introduction of digital terrestrial television (DTT) in Bulgaria. Bulgaria is an Eastern European post-communist country and a member of the European Union (EU) since 2007. The policy of digitalisation of terrestrial broadcasting is studied from a domestic perspective that focuses on the relevance of the national institutional structures and their response to internal and external (notably EU) influences. The thesis relies primarily on the ‘new institutionalist’ theoretical approach to examine how historical path dependencies and state capacities have enabled or disabled certain types of behaviour by public and private actors which have in turn shaped the policy process. In this respect, the role of the EU is seen as refracted through the prism of domestic arrangements, capacities and interests.
The thesis demonstrates that the weak institutional capacities of the Bulgarian state, political patronage, clientelism and cronyism, failed to ensure a clear, fair and transparent DTT switchover policy. Sectoral broadcasting characteristics including the prominence of pay-for platforms and small market size contributed to this result, yet the thesis argues that the extent of their impact has been determined by structural characteristics within which the desion-making process has taken place. The thesis shows that far from genuine public interest objectives - such as increased media plurality, a stronger role for PSB, more competition within and between platforms, and efficient use of spectrum - the DTT transition in the country has served to reinforce path-dependencies and historical continuities. This last point has been observed in relation to digital television policies in Western countries, such as Britain and the USA (Galperin, 2004a) and Sweden and Spain (Suarez Cantel, 2011: 318). More research is needed to confirm or not this conclusion in relation to other (post-communist) countries and other sectors.