Questions asked to Euronews Venture with a Serbian company linked to the State

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The Serbian government denies this, arguing that Telekom Serbia receives no money from state coffers, while Euronews – which receives funding from European taxpayers and has a number of European public broadcasters among its shareholders – declined to comment this story, opposing earlier. BIRN’s coverage, which it said quoted Euronews “lightly” and out of context, did not give the broadcaster the right to respond to criticism from any of the interviewees cited.

About the company, Brankica Petkovic, head of the Center for Media Policy at the Peace Institute in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, told BIRN: “The Serbian state is breaking its own law.”

“This is legal violence which can have serious consequences due to the level of involvement of political actors as well,” Petkovic told BIRN. “It would be hard to believe that Euronews, which has European public broadcasters as shareholders, was unaware of media law, because it is the first thing any investor does when coming to a country.”

Allegations of “ political influence ”

Euronews announced in July 2019 – just before the official visit to Belgrade by French President Emmanuel Macron – that it would launch a news channel and digital platform called Euronews Serbia in partnership with HD WIN, owned by Telekom Serbia, which since March 2020 is called Arena. Group of channels. It followed the launch of a similar venture last year before reaching out to Albanian speakers in the Balkan region.

At the time, Michael Peters, CEO of Euronews, said the goal was to create “a quality independent channel”.

However, according to the 2014 Serbian Law on Public Information and Media, the Serbian state had until mid-2015 to relinquish its media assets, a requirement that has yet to be met.

On the contrary, Telekom Serbia took over the media, and in September last year the Serbian Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, REM, issued a broadcast license to Euronews Serbia.

REM, who is frequently accused by the opposition of bending to the will of the government, said the decision on Euronews was taken on the basis of a decision by the Information Ministry in 2012 to give the green light to the acquisition of Arena by Telekom Serbia. Sport, a sports channel.

EMN member Judita Popovic dissented, telling BIRN: “This topic was not even part of the regular EMN session. REM always acts like this when there is clear political influence in the media.

Authorities, meanwhile, say there is nothing illegal about Euronews partnering with Telekom Serbia’s Arena Channels group.

Suzana Vasiljevic, media advisor for Vucic, argued that Telekom Serbia is not funded from the state budget and already has a number of media outlets in Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.

Euronews will be in charge of editorial policy, she said.

“Euronews selected an editor and hired him in Lyon,” Vasiljevic said in a statement to BIRN. “The editorial board manages the channel according to Euronews standards. Therefore, although Telekom invests, it does not control its editorial policy. “



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