Mr. Kovachev, how did it all start?
It all started almost 12 years ago – with a single reporter’s camera a single computer and two employees. Our office, equipment room, post-production – everything was located in a rented apartment in one of Sofia residential quarters. We bought our first OB VAN from a car dealer in the town of Pernik as a second-hand vehicle and we equipped it in two weeks. Our first breakthrough was the “Taxi” weekly show on BNT – we had to hire six cameras in order to do it. I remember there were some experienced television veterans then who expected that we were about to collapse any moment while on air.
Shortly afterwards our second OB VAN arrived. It is still working – installed on a Mercedes, having equipment that is in absolute compliance with European standards – usually using 8 cameras. We use it to broadcast for UEFA, FIFA, FIBA and generally speaking, as our great actor Popandov used to say, “and FAFA, FUFA, FOFA, whatever”…... We broadcast for Bulgaria, for Eastern and Western Europe, for Japan and the USA.Our third OB Van is a fast and mobile one; it has 4 cameras and it is mounted on a Peugeot. As far as our satellite department is concerned – there we have two DSNG’s.
We are pleased with them as our satellite battles have always been successful. Do you remember EURO 2004 in Portugal, the Athens Olympics, the European biathlon championship, the 2007 Balkan games in athletics, the great number of broadcasts for Eurovision? All those happened with the professional involvement and the clear television pictures of TV 1.
And now we’ve come to our fourth OB VAN with high definition. At first glance one could say that it is too early to construct a High Definition standard OB VAN since High Definition has just begun in Europe. But the main idea is to create contents (ТV programs, concerts, classical art), which will have been done by the time of introduction of these standards both in Bulgaria and on the Balkans. Objects and people shot in High Definition are clearer and livelier than real life ones – water is more crystal clear than the water on the Vitosha Mountain and grass is greener than the grass on the Largo.
How would you define TV 1 if you have to explain what TV 1 is with just a few words?
ТV 1 is among the first independent television companies in Bulgaria, having great reputation and experience both on the Bulgarian market and on the territory of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. ТV 1 television house has repeatedly applied for, and on most of the occasions has been assigned projects for television documentaries showing in an interesting and watchable way certain processes in our society and country, especially ones related to European integration. We have an impressive “European” record – both in working on European programs and in television reproduction of good practices and personal stories from the European Union in Bulgaria.
Would you share any of them?
In my opinion the documentary “Bulgaria and the Nuclear Power Plant: Several stories”
– Communications strategy for EU, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated 2003, was of great significance. In the heat of the debate regarding the shutdown of the third and fourth reactors of Kozlodui NPP and the Bulgarian membership in EU we made something for the first time – we looked for arguments for and against in EU countries themselves, where the supporters and opponents of nuclear power engineering have been arguing for a long time. That was a real contribution to the Bulgarian debate since it extended that debate beyond the limits of provincialism and the theories of conspiracy; it showed why Austrian greens did not want new NPPs built and how the Czech nuclear engineers had defended their Temelin NPP. The project was realized on television in an interesting way, it provided new information and chilled the feelings on such a delicate and complex subject.
In 2005 we created the documentary “Europe’s rhymes”
following a project of the European Commission Delegation in Bulgaria. That project was to promote another bigger one – the project by the Dutch Presidency of EU “Poetry on the Walls”
. It proved our abilities to work on EU projects and to finish them successfully: a very difficult, elite and complicated for television production subject was turned by us into а film that was pleasant to watch, with a real dramaturgic connection – a Bulgarian poet answers to poems in several European languages in Sofia using his own verses.
You have also developed Bulgarian ministries projects, haven’t you?
Yes, we have. Several ones in fact. Following a project by the Ministry of Economy in 2004 we made a presentation film for Bulgaria.
The film represented Bulgaria in terms of history, culture and tourism in six languages. By successfully finishing that project we proved that we possess the abilities to work with the administration of the Republic of Bulgaria, both on local and central levels, with beneficial results for both our parties.
We made the documentary “A Desk with a Smile”
in 2006 following a project of the Ministry of State Administration and Administrative Reform. The film showed how we can work with municipalities – Veliko Turnovo, Kavarna, Dobrich, Gabrovo. Their problems and their administrative advances were represented in an interesting and at the same time beneficial for both parties way.
As far as municipal administrations are concerned ТV 1 has serious experience in working with Bulgarian and European municipalities. A great part of our activities are located in the country and we are acquainted, both personally and professionally, with a number of mayors, municipal councilors, municipal administration members, etc.
Mr. Kovachev, you run ESTATE TV satellite channel. How was it born and what is this quite different TV idea like?
Yes, ТV 1 runs the ESTATE TV satellite channel. Its target group is also municipalities – in terms of real estates, tourism, business ideas and lifestyle. We have been cooperating with municipalities in municipal property sales – broadcasting video orders and tender announcements, finding investors, advertising tourist destinations. However, ESTATE TV is not a television for the mass viewer audience; it reaches an interested, professional and specialized audience that carefully watches the offers broadcasted on ESTATE TV. It is not an entertainment television. It provides cut-and-dried but independent and detailed information on estates, cities and towns, sales and prospective deals.
What do you think makes it a different television?
ESTATE TV does not use accelerated editing with fast clip frames. Its main objective is potential customers to be well informed of investments, purchases and tourism. This is achieved by using slow frames and balanced editing. Although it is accessible by 400 million viewers both in Bulgaria and abroad it is not watched by millions. However, its programs are eagerly anticipated by businessmen and other interested people. This assertion is confirmed by the great number of telephone calls that customers (having announced their contact details on ESTATE TV) receive from Bulgaria, Germany, Belgium, Austria, etc.
To put it in a few words, although ESTATE TV is not among the most watched television channels in Bulgaria, it has a strictly targeted and project oriented Bulgarian and international audience (Bulgarians and Western Europeans with civil and business interests in Bulgarian municipalities). The experience with previous projects shows that broadcasts on ESTATE TV result in popularity, prestige and awareness in elite circles of society.