Ralf Bartoleit: Television remains the leader in offering video content on the Bulgarian market

The CEO of bTV Media Group with an interview about the development of the company and the role of the media in the modern world


Mr Bartoleit, it has been 10 months since you took over as CEO of bTV. What are your goals and ambitions? What have you achieved and what are your plans for the next year to increase the growth and positioning of bTV?

I was able to adapt quickly to the environment. Since the beginning of the year, we have been focused on business goals and our quest to create quality content on all bTV platforms. We have renewed the portfolio and expanded the range of entertainment formats, we are focused on digital channels and offer more opportunities in radio channels. We strive to create a modern and diverse cross-media environment that meets the growing demand "here and now". This is our clear approach to business development that we followed this year and will follow in 2024.

However, behind every newscast, every scenario, every program and every digital change is our user. Everything we do is designed to keep our audience engaged by informing or entertaining them. We want users to find us easily and accessible on any device or location they choose. Our philosophy is to focus on providing the client with their content anytime, anywhere. Our market audience is hungry to be informed, entertained and personally engaged - this is where the synergy between different channels and platforms comes in.

You have extensive international experience as a journalist and media expert at established giants such as ProSieben Sat.l Media SE, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Deutsche Presse Agentur. What did you take away from your experience in Bulgaria?

I am happy to be here and contribute to the development of bTV. I undoubtedly rely on my extensive international experience, but I also rely on the expertise of the wonderful professionals in the company. Over the years abroad, I have devoted myself to various projects in the field of media and entertainment formats, content production and digital technologies. Our entertainment and reality formats, along with news and current affairs, remain an integral part of our multi-platform business. My efforts and those of the team are directed in this direction - to continue creating modern multimedia entertainment, which is aimed at the young and urban audience, but also at the wider television audience in the country. To achieve these goals, we are constantly adding more technology and innovation to the programs and developing our digital presence.

bTV opened the new TV season with a big event and introduced a revamped program and new faces in key shows. You also announced news about the Turkish series. What can viewers expect in front of the screen, since it is clear that bTV is changing?

The changes in current shows are related to our concept of diversification and a stronger representation of polythematic content. The new Fall 2023 season offers upgraded content across all our formats and platforms, as well as entertainment and entertainment from the daily themes. That's what viewers are looking for. The tenth season of "The Voice of Bulgaria" is among the most watched reality shows. We have revamped the concept of The Farm, another popular show in our primetime schedule. In one of our best formats, MasterChef, we introduced a new panel of judges that attracts a diverse audience and enhances the show. At the beginning of autumn, we broadcast special episodes of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", which enjoyed great popularity, and we can say that this is one of the favorite games of Bulgarians on the air. We have also affirmed our plans to replace prime-time Turkish series with other entertainment content on the main bTV channel. There is much more to share about the development of our portfolio, but we will do so at a later stage.

What is the role of the media and journalists today, how do they contribute to the sustainable functioning of societies?

When I started my career in the media, I became fully aware of its importance to society, especially to communities, which are in a process of transformation. The media hold the rulers accountable and cover all social problems. Their role is extremely important, not only because they adequately inform about the most interesting things that happen in people's lives, but also because they act as a moral compass for everyone who participates in social processes. I unreservedly trust the media and that's why I work in the media. Media independence and professionalism are the foundation of democratic societies.

bTV is part of the large PPF-owned CME family, and the group's ambition is to transform the media industry. What does this mean for the Bulgarian market, as you implement this strategy in practice?

bTV is an established independent and proven brand for the last 23 years in Bulgaria. As part of CME - a leading media and entertainment content company in the region, our business is naturally and logically associated with innovation, work standards and a bright identity. This speaks of sustainability over time and a strong connection with the viewing audience. Each of our brands and platforms carries the charge and weight of the main bTV channel. Our strategy is developing in this direction, and the strategy of all markets where CME operates - to tell meaningful stories and excite people in front of the screen. Following the acquisition by PPF in 2020, CME has become the largest, most sustainable, most invested and most significant broadcaster in Central and Eastern Europe, which is in an excellent position to deploy scale and growth. CME's core strength is the ability to adapt and tell local stories that resonate with audiences. That's why our long-term plan for content creation and digital adaptability are at the heart of CME strategy.

The entire interview can be found in the November issue of Forbes magazine or online here.