Anton Hekimyan is among the most recognizable faces on the Bulgarian television screen. He built his entire journalistic career at bTV. Over the years, he has been a reporter and presenter of the daily and weekend morning block, as well as many special editions of bTV News, extraordinary and election studios. At the end of 2020, he took up the position of Director of “News, Current Affairs and Sports”. For his work as a journalist, Anton Hekimyan has received a number of recognitions and awards. In an interview for the special edition of "BGLOBAL" magazine from July, he talks more about the creation of "green" content and the media's responsibility towards the environment.
How much responsibility does the media have for environmental protection? Is it comparable to the responsibility of politicians?
The topic of responsibility to society is a leading one for all journalists in the newsroom of the bTV News, as well as for the employees of our entire company. Usually, we are the people who are on the front line when there is a problem, and we have to look for those responsible. However, we are also the ones who, with the news, can most quickly touch people's hearts about the ideas related to green practices.
We have always given experts and politicians the opportunity to express their point of view and ideas on environmental protection, for the introduction of relevant policies, and we follow up on compliance with their promises.
Taking a step towards change is not easy, especially if you have to make extra efforts for sustainable "green" behavior. Even if we have to overcome what is embedded in us Bulgarians as thinking that this is not "our" job. Here is the role of the media - to make the connection between the people and everyone responsible, to look for the right solutions for the protection of the environment and to educate the public that this is our home that we must preserve.
As a journalist with extensive experience, do you notice changes in public awareness towards nature conservation and are they significant?
I remember the beginning of our campaign "Let's clean Bulgaria together" - one of the biggest tasks then was the fight against prejudices in a large part of society - we pay taxes, this is a commitment of the municipality, one day of the year is not enough, we don't pollute, then why clean up other people's trash etc. Now it is no longer just a question of waste collection. Separate collection is entering our everyday life, unfortunately later than I would like, but it is a hot topic for more and more businesses and homes. Today, the participants in the "Let's clean Bulgaria together" campaign put much more effort into improving the environment around them - parks, inter-block spaces, cultural and historical monuments, places for recreation and rest. Here, we have taken another step forward as a society. The most valuable thing is that in these 10 years the success of the campaign is that it managed to overturn these attitudes. As a media with a direct impact on current topics for society and with the support of partners, we managed to bring to the fore "zero tolerance" for irresponsibility and pollution. Imagine a whole generation brought up in a common responsibility to care for nature - then he was 10 years old, now he is a full-fledged citizen who will raise his children in this spirit as well.
Are we moving towards a global green humanity?
Getting more and more people involved in the green cause is a challenge. Young people are engaged in topics related to ecology and sustainable living. It is important for them that even the products they consume are created by environmentally responsible companies. We are all in a time where we need to overturn our ideas of how we should live. To limit overconsumption - a topic that only 20 years ago was not the focus of the individual. Today, everyone is aware of the scale of the consumer society we are a part of. We buy, we waste resources in spades - but how often do we ask ourselves - what is the real cost? Not the one on the label in the store, but the price that stands on the "goods" that is the FUTURE.
I'm glad this is a topic that's already bringing people together. We consciously reduce our impact on nature, we strive through our actions not to leave a footprint and not to harm its and our common future. This does not happen without the messages - the messages sent by opinion leaders, world politicians and, of course, the media as the main conduit of these ideas.
What has been the experience of bTV's Green Week initiative? Does it give you ideas and motivation for its sequel?
This is an initiative that we are doing for the first time within the media group of CME, part of PPF, and it is implemented simultaneously in six markets - Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and Romania. bTV Media Group has always been an innovator in the field of media and video content creation, and now we have once again given a definite sign of entering a new stage of development. “This Morning” spotlighted urban farming, pollution, and invited viewers to share "eco-friendly" steps in their daily lives through "I, the Reporter." In "COOLt" they answered the question - why it is important for children to be in nature. We advocated more interesting news and different aspects of the topics in radio, and a strong web presence at btvnovinite.bg, Ladyzone.bg and businessnovinite.bg. We offered a rich documentary and film program on bTV and our thematic channels. Our VOYO platform has also stepped in with a selection of movies, documentaries, and TV series. What's great about this initiative is that it draws viewers' attention to these topics and educates our society. Strong audience feedback after this campaign is important, including for our partners at various levels - advertisers, institutions, and NGOs.
You have green segments and green content. What topics are most interesting to the audience - consumer news, announcements of scientific discoveries, others...?
bTV Media Group has always been a responsible company and another bold step forward is to change the model in which we create TV content. We are the first media group in Bulgaria to create "green filming". These are "green practices" to adapt the production process in terms of energy use, transport, accommodation, catering, eco-certified products, low-carbon services, waste management, elimination of single-use plastic products, reduction of the use of paper, optimization of internal and external communication, and inclusion of green content. In 2022, 3 projects of the group were eco-certified according to the international albert standard: "Before Noon", "The Nikolaos Tsitiridis Show" and "The Voice of Bulgaria", and in 2023, four more shows - the culinary reality show "MasterChef" Bulgaria, the morning block "This Morning", the current affairs program "120 Minutes" and the lifestyle show "COOLt".
Do you think positive green news will overtake or at least rank alongside news about pollution and natural disasters?
News is determined by the day and the importance of the topics. Sometimes the topics are related to natural disasters that affect large groups of people or settlements. And if this is first news - it does not mean that there is no place in the feed for an inspiring green initiative. If there is a disaster or pollution - the media is the most important for seeking responsibility from the institutions - is there a neglect of commitments and what will be the prevention.
We are the people through whom all the messages for the help needed by the injured people often go through.
At the same time, we again have a duty to society to show the good, new practices for a green and sustainable lifestyle. The pulse of society goes through what they will see or read on our channels. This is not just about awareness. We should be the inspiration for many more people who want to be helpful, but sometimes they just don't know how or who to turn to.
You can read the entire interview in the "ESG Investors - Path" edition of "BGLOBAL" magazine dated 28.07.2023.