weCAN Digest April 2019

Media monitoring of the latest news about the media and advertising markets of Central and Eastern Europe

2019 World Press Freedom Index – A cycle of fear
The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows how hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear. The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media.

HBO opens up in the Czech Republic
All cable, DTH and IPTV customers in the Czech Republic will be offered HBO 3 for free of charge from April 7 to April 14. Rozhlas.cz reports that this follows an agreement between HBO and the country’s leading operators, including O2, Skylink and UPC.
Apr 1

Politician attacks journalist in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina should quickly and thoroughly investigate the attack and harassment of journalist Adi Kebo by Sarajevo politician Huso Ćesir, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Apr 2

CNN teams up with Czech Prima
CNN International Commercial (CNNIC) and the Prima Group have entered into a partnership that will see the launch of CNN Prima News, a new news platform, in the Czech Republic.
Apr 2

Google pulls grant to Hungarian publisher over fake news allegations
Google said Wednesday it is withdrawing a grant given to the publisher of a Hungarian news site that has come under fire after critics flagged it is publishing fake news.
Apr 3

Head Of Russian News Agency’s Office In Ukraine Goes On Trial For Treason
Prosecutors have accused Kirill Vyshinsky, the head of Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti’s office in Ukraine, of publishing “anti-Ukrainian” articles and materials at the beginning of his treason trial in a Kyiv court.
Apr 4

Viacom Launches ‘Paramount Play’ SVOD Service in Poland
Viacom International Media Networks has expanded the “Paramount Play” branded subscription streaming video service into Poland through pay-TV operator Orange Poland and telecom operator Cyfrowy Polsat – the latter with about 3.5 million subscribers.
Apr 5

Serbia: EFJ/IFJ urge restrain from violence against journalists after call for protests at media houses
Following calls for anti-government protests at the Serbian private TV Pink offices, the European and International Federation of Journalists (EFJ and IFJ) today joined their Serbian affiliates NUNS, UNS and SINOS in urging protesters to refrain from all forms of violence against journalists and appealing to all stakeholders to ensure journalists’ safety and the protection of the media’s property.
Apr 5

Hungarians start European news agency with pro-Orban content
A group of Hungarian business leaders and politicians close to Prime Minister Viktor Orban have founded an international news agency in London whose coverage will focus on central and eastern Europe.
Apr 9

Slovenia, Croatia Reopen Long-running Wiretapping Dispute
Croatian leaders and the Croatian intelligence agency have denied attempting to stop the Slovenian media from publishing reports accusing the agency of involvement in the collapse of the arbitration process between the two countries over rights to the Adriatic Sea.
Apr 10

Bulgaria’s Advance media closes broadcaster Nova Televizia acquisition
Bulgaria’s Advance Media Group said on April 10 that it has closed the acquisition of 100 per cent in Nova Broadcasting Group from Nordic Modern Times Group. Advance Media secured regulatory approval for the deal last month, having announced its agreement to buy Nova for 185 million euro in February.
Apr 10

Jan Kuciak: Ex-soldier ‘admits double murder’ in Slovakia
An ex-soldier in Slovakia has confessed to the double murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée last year, Slovak media report. Miroslav Marcek and three others – all in custody – have been charged over the killings, which caused a huge outcry and political change in Slovakia.
Apr 12

Thousands gather to protest against Serbia president Vučić
Thousands of people protested in Serbia against President Aleksandar Vucic on Saturday. Authorities accuse the opposition of planning the violence and deployed a heavy police presence inside the parliament building in Belgrade.
The Serbian Interior Ministry estimated the crowd’s size at up to 7,500 people. Organisers said numbers were far bigger.
Apr 13

EU intel: Russia is using social media to influence EU elections
European Union intelligence agencies are monitoring Russian efforts to influence the EU’s parliamentary elections that kick off on May 23, according to current situation reports seen by dpa.
Apr 13

Winner of Estonian election loses bid to form government
Estonia’s Reform party, which won the election in early March, failed to secure a parliamentary majority on April 15, the vote’s result now opening a possibility for the runner-up Centre party to bid for power.
Apr 15

Russia blocks news site for anti-Putin graffiti under new law
Russian authorities blocked a regional news website over the weekend over a report about graffiti insulting Vladimir Putin, its chief editor said, under a new ban on insulting officials online.
Apr 15

Provocative billboards with Poroshenko will be taken down
Provocative outdoor advertising in the style of campaigning by incumbent President Petro Poroshenko’s headquarters, has been posted in violation of the law, National Police Spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo has said.
Apr 15

Czech Data Protection Authority Cracking Down On Marketing Communications and Databases
As we have previously reported, the Czech Data Protection Authority (“DPA“) has repeatedly warned against a common practice on the Czech market: companies using personal contact details acquired from third parties for marketing communications.
Apr 16

Game of Thrones spat in Russia
Subscribers to Russia’s VimpelCom (Beeline TV) have lost their access to Fox TV channels on the eve of the final season of Game of Thrones. Kommersant reports that this is a result of a dispute between Media Telecom, the joint venture between National Media Group (NMG) and Rostelecom that holds the exclusive rights to Fox TV channels in Russia, and VimpelCom.
Apr 16

Ukraine media demands access to presidential favourite
Ukrainian media on Tuesday called on comedian Volodymyr Zelensky to answer their questions ahead of a weekend presidential election he is expected to win despite minimum engagement with mainstream outlets.
Apr 16

Ukraine election rivals trade taunts and media tricks
Slick online ads and attention-grabbing antics have spiced up Ukraine’s presidential election, now shaped by the frontrunner – popular TV comic Volodymyr Zelensky.
Apr 17

Saeima lawyers: media council failed to comply with law when composing LTV board
When organizing LTV board selection process, Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council failed to comply with requirements of the law, as concluded by Saeima’s Legal Affairs Office, stressing that dismissal of council members requires serious and legally backed reasons, LTV programme Panorāma reported on Tuesday, 16 April.
Apr 17

Journalists injured by police during protest in Bulgaria
On April 12, 2019, at least two journalists were injured while covering clashes between police and protesters in Gabrovo, a town in central Bulgaria, according to local media reports.
Apr 17

Facebook and Twitter could be blocked in Russia in data storage row
Russia could block access to Facebook and Twitter if the social media companies fail to fulfil its demand to move data on Russian users to servers located within the country, officials have warned.
Apr 17

Internet Added $60Bln to Russia’s Economy in 2018, Study Says
Russia’s internet sector has contributed 3.9 trillion rubles ($60.8 billion) to the overall economy last year, an 11 percent increase from 2017, according to the Russian Association of Electronic Communications.
Apr 18

Caricature Row Throws Spotlight on Hungarian Influence in Slovenia
The Hungarian government’s response to a caricature in the influential Slovenian magazine Mladina underscores the point the almost-century old publication was trying to make, say those who work there.
Apr 18

Czech tax on digital advertising to be at 3-5%
The tax on digital advertising, the so-called digital tax, may be set at a rate between 3% and 5% and could bring between CZK1bn and CZK3bn, according to information of Hospodarske Noviny, a newspaper. The information comes from finance ministry and party sources, and partially from finance minister Alena Schillerova, who spoke to the newspaper.
Apr 18

Serbian Journalists Protest Against Acts of Intimidation
Serbian journalists gathered on Friday to protest against an openly threatening video targeting BIRN Serbia editor Slobodan Georgijev, which media unions and the OSCE have condemned.
Apr 19

Minister’s Sharp Tweets Make Waves in Bosnia
Security Minister Dragan Mektic’s exploits on Twitter have drawn attention in a country where few politicians seem very social-media savvy – but some experts say politicians like him need to be careful about what they say on social networks.
Apr 19

Self-regulatory body in the field of advertising established in Serbia
With the establishment of the National Association for Ethical Advertising Standards (NAESO), Serbia has gained an important self-regulatory body that will work in partnership with all stakeholders in the media market, state institutions, professional associations and international organizations, to promote ethical standards in advertising and marketing communications.
Apr 22

Telekom Srbija inks Bosnian deals
Telekom Srbija has signed agreements with Radio Television Republike Srpske (RTRS), Banja Luka Alternative Television (AATV) and Prnjavorske K3.
Apr 22

Bulgarian journalist’s killer gets 30 years in prison
The man who raped and murdered Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova has been sentenced to three decades in jail. Marinova had been jogging near the Danube river when she was killed “in a particularly brutal manner.”
Apr 22

Ukraine election: Comedian wins presidential poll
Volodymyr Zelensky – who played a fictional president on Ukrainian TV – has won a landslide victory in the country’s presidential election.
Apr 22

Russia’s Sberbank buys stake in media group Rambler
Sberbank, the Kremlin’s largest lender, has obtained a 46.5 per cent stake in Rambler, one of Russia’s largest media and entertainment groups, the companies said Tuesday.
Apr 23

Romania Arrests Policeman Over Death Threats to Journalist
Romanian police and prosecutors raided the country’s Police Academy on Wednesday in search of a suspect who allegedly threatened an investigative journalist with death.
Apr 24

Independent Hungarian newspaper’s covers forced off the streets of Hungary
For forty years, the tongue-in-cheek covers of independent political and economic weekly HVG had appeared all over Hungary on advertisement columns of Mahir Cityposter every week.
Apr 24

Before elections in Latvia, 63 percent of publications in the Russian press was negative
Last year before the Saeima elections in Latvia, 63 percent of publications in the Russian press expressed a negative attitude towards Latvia, said the Latvian Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB), citing its monitoring results.
Apr 24

MP moves to ban media ownership by alcohol, tobacco-related businesses
Lithuanian MP Vytautas proposes to ban persons linked tot he alcohol and tobacco business from owning media outlets.
Apr 24

Lithuanian PM denies calling journalists ‘dung-beetles’
The Lithuanian government denied on Wednesday that Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis called journalists “dung-beetles” last year. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in its 2019 World Press Freedom Index report released last week that Skvernelis had allegedly called journalists “dung-beetles” during a Cabinet discussion on the media’s access to registry data.
Apr 24

COLCHIS: Media Sustainability in Eurasia: What does the Data Say?
Southeast Europe enjoys a diverse and vibrant media sector, but an analysis by data consultancy Keshif shows that the press is coming under pressure and diversity and quality may be slipping.
Apr 25

Russia’s Yandex boosted by growth in core internet search business
Russian internet giant Yandex reported a sharp rise in revenues in the first quarter of 2019 on the back of growth in its core search and advertising business.
Apr 25

Romanian journalist, harassed and prosecuted for the non-existing crime of disclosing public information
When the former head of Radio Romania asked to know who gave the information to investigative journalists at tolo.ro and Gazeta Sporturilor, the prosecutors complied and gave the name of Gabriela Scraba. After they took her laptop, they searched her house and belongings in front of her autistic daughter and 80 year old aunt. At six in the morning, Gabriela Scraba confessed to an non-existent crime.
Apr 25

Dejan Anastasijevic, Journalist and Witness to War Crimes, Dies at 57
The Serbian journalist Dejan Anastasijevic, who documented his country’s descent into revanchist nationalism under strongman Slobodan Milosevic, died Wednesday in Belgrade after a long illness.
Apr 26

Russia’s great firewall: is it meant to keep information in – or out?
Vladimir Putin will soon sign the ‘sovereign internet’ bill to allow greater monitoring of traffic. But what are its other consequences?
Apr 28

Local Media in Romania Earn Profits, But Only on Paper
The majority of local media outlets in Romania managed to earn profits in 2017, but in reality, Romanian local media experience a profound financial crisis. Most outlets survive solely thanks to local municipalities or oligarchs who fund media to prevent critical coverage, according to a new report of the Media Influence Matrix project, to be published on May 3.
Apr 29

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