03/06/2013 by Christopher Buxton

They are the only channel that tell the truth!” My mother-in-law watches SKAT with avid interest every night. And indeed SKAT TV can claim that it represents the interests and articulates the feelings of disadvantaged Bulgarians – particularly impoverished pensioners who see their children unemployed or emigrating, who are easily scared by crime and failings in the health service, who feel that their secure futures were stolen with the downfall of Communism.  Alongside single view “discussion” sessions SKAT provides its viewers with fascinating historical documentaries, health advice and concerts of old fashioned music.

So many years after its foundation, the sheer amateurism of SKAT TV has become quite endearing. In its political programmes angry men sit behind desks and rave in front of a fixed camera.  They order up clips to support their arguments and precious moments drag by while they wait for the technical staff to fulfill their clearly unexpected whim.  The audience is left entirely in the dark as to why they are being shown the clip. And the angry man talks over it, so the audience cannot hear what is being said.  At last the angry man peremptorily closes the clip with a wave of the hand and continues his harangue.

Last night the supreme master of fury unleashed his feelings about the newly  formed Bulgarian Government of Plamen Oresharski.  The programme began with a flurry of salty invective. The new Cabinet smelled of soiled underpants. One of its female members had once been a secretary – an opportunity for our angry presenter to suggest that his viewers understood what a secretary’s unwritten duties included. A photo-montage was presented of Bulgaria’s presumed new rulers  Gay, (Sergei Stanishev), Bey (Lyutfi Mestan) and Filthy Play (Volen Siderov). All are given comic fezes to wear. Of course SKAT TV distanced itself from this Facebook product, presumably in the interests of some imperialistic notion of political correctness. But Angry man could not resist showing this again and again throughout the programme.

He then made the mistake of promising his viewers an in-depth expose of each Cabinet member in turn.  This required his technical team to show the photo of each new minister as he revealed their incompetence, corrupt relationships, and  sexual peccadilloes. You could only imagine the ensuing panic. “Colleagues, please show the picture of …” For long minutes the angry man stared baffled at the screen, for once lost for words.  Things did not always improve when the angry man got exactly what he wanted – the right photograph at the right time. “Ah!” he announced triumphantly. “I’ve got something you’ll all want to hear about this one. Now where was it?” Angry man scrabbled through his papers like a supply teacher who has lost his lesson plan. At last he sighed in frustration. It would have to keep.

Thank God for his guests – former MP and insider Stoyan Ivanov and in particular that great investigative journalist Assen Yordanov.  Assen is a man of hard facts. He does not dwell on sexual orientation or descend to calling the new government Turkish. But his close analysis exposes the disconcerting truth that Volen Siderov’s decision to attend parliament and thus provide it with the necessary quorum, has given the green light to a Cabinet which is so mired in potential scandal that none of SKAT TV viewers’ very real problems will be effectively addressed soon. Assen’s gift is to focus attention on the very particular rather than make broad brush propaganda statements.  He rightly dwelt on the newly created Ministry of Investment Planning,  MIP which we all suspect actually means Manipulation Into Pockets of most Euro funds. First choice for this ministry is the architect mired in the Dune-gate scandal. Second choice is his close colleague.  Neither choice reflects well on Oresharski.

Unfortunately just as Assen was warming to his theme, the programme ran out of time.