weCAN Digest January 2019

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

Latvia gets Media Ethics Council
Latvian journalism organizations created a media ethics council this month. The Latvian media ethics council plans to have a journalism ethics code proposal and council members by February, according to the Baltic News Network.
Jan 1

Russia ‘decriminalizes’ pro-Ukraine social media reposts in occupied Crimea. But only the first
Amendments have been made to one of Russia’s notorious ‘extremism’ charges used in many political prosecutions in Russian-occupied Crimea. It remains to be seen whether it has a major impact, but in principle it should stop people facing criminal charges and being placed on Russia’s ‘List of Terrorists and Extremists’ for a single reposted text or picture on social media.
Jan 2

Outrage at sexist anti-drinking posters on Croatian trams
A campaign against alcohol in the capital of Croatia has sparked outrage for saying excessive drinking makes women have irresponsible sex with people they do not know.
Jan 4

Telia partners Ericsson to launch Estonia’s first 5G network
Telia Company, TalTech University and Ericsson have launched Estonia’s first 5G network, transmitting its first 4K video live stream from Tallinn Old Town Christmas market.
Jan 7

MTG cancels deal for sale of Bulgaria’s Nova Broadcasting Group to PPF
Swedish entertainment company Modern Times Group (MTG) said on Monday that it has decided to terminate its agreement to sell its Bulgarian unit Nova Broadcasting Group to Czech-based investment group PPF.
Jan 7

Controversial ads at Tallinn tram stop replaced by Estonia 200 ads
Early on Monday morning, commuters in Central Tallinn were met with the sight of a series of bold, bilingual advertisements dividing each side of the central Hobujaama tram stop in half, with the ads on the left, in blue, stating “Here only Estonians” and the ads on the right, in red, stating “Here only Russians.” By Tuesday morning, the controversial ads had been replaced — by ads for Estonia 200.
Jan 8

Freedom of expression in Croatia under assault over ‘mental anguish’
Croatian media will remember 2018 for a very high number of often bizarre court convictions for libel in favour of state officials. It appears that 2019 will not be any better. EURACTIV Croatia reports.
Jan 8

Latvia clamps down on internet piracy
Latvia has passed a law that requires ISPs to block access to TV broadcasts that violate intellectual property rights. According to Mediasat, the blocking will initially be undertaken in out of court orders by the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) for a period of six months.
Jan 10

Russia media watchdog investigates BBC website over IS quotes
Russia’s media regulator says it has found material on BBC websites that “broadcast the ideological attitudes of international terrorist organisations”. Roskomnadzor said it was looking at quotes from the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Jan 10

Czech PM targeted by billboards of ‘shame’
Billboards targeting billionaire Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis have popped up across the country this week, showing portraits of citizens expressing “shame” over fraud charges he faces. The high-profile “I am ashamed of my prime minister” campaign was dreamed up by advertising executive Jaroslav Polacek.
Jan 11

Serbia – Balkans’ Black Champion of Journalists’ Safety: Reports on Western Balkan Countries
Serbia is maintaining its infamous rank in the region as the country in which journalists’ safety is the most endangered, the data from comparative analysis conducted by the Regional Platform for advocating media freedom and journalists’ safety reveal.
Jan 11

Ukrainian advertising enters 2019 trying to get back to 2013
Since 2016, the Ukrainian advertising market has been rebounding, with digital media showing the most promise. The market hit $625 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $793 million in 2019, according to the latest report by All-Ukrainian Advertising Coalition.
Jan 13

Romania Wakes Up To RFE/RL
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) relaunched its Romanian Service on January 14 at 8:00am local time in Bucharest, after closing its doors in the country a decade ago.
Jan 14

Slovak prosecutor fired for contacts with suspect in journalist murder
Slovakia’s top prosecutor fired his deputy on Tuesday after he admitted having had online contacts with a woman held in custody on suspicion of ordering the murder of an investigative journalist.
Jan 15

Google ordered to submit search index to state sponsorship in Russia
Russian information agency Roskomnadzor is requiring Google and Bing to subject their results to government censorship. (Yandex has reportedly already complied.) A law passed last year in the country mandates that search engine results be filtered through the federal state information system (FGIS).
Jan 16

Polish police detain suspects for hate speech, murder threats after Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz’s death
Polish police have detained at least 10 people over social media posts calling for murder and acts of aggression in the wake of the public killing of a city mayor.
Jan 16

Exclusive: Facebook brings stricter ads rules to countries with big 2019 votes
Facebook Inc told Reuters on Tuesday that it would extend some of its political advertising rules and tools for curbing election interference to India, Nigeria, Ukraine and the European Union before significant votes in the next few months.
Jan 16

Lithuania’s ruling majority swings at media freedom, experts warn
Under the blanket of international developments in the media landscape and citing dangers stemming from hostile Russia’s actions, Lithuanian legislators are following in their Hungarian and Polish counterparts’ footsteps and proceed with legislation that, if implemented, will infringe media freedom and the constitutional right of freedom of speech in the country.
Jan 17

Facebook Identifies Russia-Linked Misinformation Campaign
Facebook identified two disinformation campaigns originating from Russia — including one tied to an agency controlled by the Kremlin — that were targeted at users in Europe and Central Asia. The company said on Thursday it had deleted nearly 500 pages and accounts that had posted the misleading messages.
Jan 17

Russia court upholds restriction of foreign ownership of media
The Russian Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the restriction of foreign ownership of media is legal. The court upheld a law restricting foreign ownership of media to twenty percent.
Jan 17

Broadcaster CME scraps sale of Slovenian operations
Broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises (CME) (CETV.O) (CETV.PR) will keep its Slovenian television networks, it said on Friday after a long-running regulatory process held up plans to pay down debt.
Jan 18

This Russian startup wants to put huge ads in space. Not everyone is on board with the idea.
If it sometimes feels as if the world is awash in advertisements, just wait. A Russian startup just revealed plans to use swarms of tiny, light-reflecting satellites to create sprawling billboards in space. The first of StartRocket’s space-based ads, shown in a new concept video released by the company last week, could go up by 2021.
Jan 18

Protesters push for opposition, media rights in Serbia
Anti-government protests in Serbia have continued for the seventh Saturday in a row. Thousands marched in the capital, Belgrade, in protest against President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling Serbian Progressive Party.
Jan 20

He took over the AMG and became the owner of 41 media in Serbia
By taking over the company “Adria Media Group” Igor Zezelj became the owner an association “Adria Media Magazines” as well, which is fully owned by this company. Both companies have a total of 41 media.
Jan 21

RFE/RL Returns To Bulgaria
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) relaunched its Bulgarian Service on January 21 at 8:00am local time in Sofia, resuming news coverage after an absence of 15 years.
Jan 21

Russia launches case against Facebook and Twitter over ’breach of data laws’
Russia has launched a civil case against Facebook and Twitter for failing to provide details about how they will comply with the country’s data laws, according to local media reports.
Jan 21

Serbia : RSF expects concrete measures from Vucic after formal meeting in Belgrade
After a wide-ranging discussion with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at the presidential palace in Belgrade yesterday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) expects positive changes for press freedom in the biggest Balkan country, which aspires to join the European Union.
Jan 22

HCLU Goes to Court over Hungary’s Pro-government Media Monster
HCLU turns to the courts for the freedom of speech after the Hungarian Government blocks the country’s Competition Authority from investigating.
Jan 23

Estonian newspaper seeking to influence voters?
The Estonian daily Postimees has published a “Vote Compass” aimed at helping the citizens decide how to vote in the run-up to the parliamentary elections on March 3. Politicians were interviewed in advance about the questions contained in the compass. But according to other Estonian media outlets there can be no talk of this being an unbiased tool for voters.
Jan 24

Mirko Stular is the new director of Radio Slovenia
Current Director Miha Lamprecht is going to finish his second mandate on 28th of December. He did not compete for the new because, according to him, the time has come for the management of the radio to be taken over by someone else.
Jan 25

This former Google exec talked to the social media trolls the Russians paid to influence elections — here’s what she learned
Camille François is a veteran of Alphabet, most recently at Google’s analytics offshoot Jigsaw. She left the tech giant eight months ago to lead research and analysis at Graphika, a social network analysis company, where she was this week named chief innovation officer.
Jan 27

Poland May Block Soros Group From Buying Big Radio Station
Poland’s government signaled it would try to prevent a takeover of the country’s second-largest radio station by a group that includes billionaire financier George Soros.
Jan 28

Facebook Announces New Ad Rules To Ward Off Election Meddling
Facebook says it is beefing up its rules and safeguards regarding political advertisements to “prevent foreign interference” in elections in Europe and elsewhere.
Jan 28

Pluralism of opinions is key to trust in public media
The first joint forum, organized by the two public media in Bulgaria, provoked great interest among journalists, media analysts, MPs, former and current members of the Council for Electronic Media, NGOs and international experts.
Jan 28

Ukraine: 86 incidents of aggression against journalists recorded in 2018
The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), an IFJ affiliate, has recorded 86 attacks against media workers in 2018. The IFJ joins its affiliate in strictly condemning the attacks and demand public authorities to provide clear guarantee for press freedom in the country.
Jan 28

Despite media impact worries Bulgaria begins to implement GDPR amendments
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation took another step towards being integrated into Bulgarian law last week, when MPs in Sofia gave the green light to the second and final reading of changes to the nation’s data protection legislation. The approval motion came amid a wave of doubts raised by a number of political groups claiming that the amendments could undermine media freedom in Bulgaria.
Jan 29

State advertising spending in Hungary – an unlawful form of state aid
For many years now, Fidesz has funded its propaganda media with state resources, thereby ruining competition and distorting the entire Hungarian public discourse.
Jan 29

Facebook to open content review centre in Bulgaria
The world’s largest social network, Facebook, has announced plans to open a content review centre in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. The media giant will work together with Telus International, one of the largest outsourcing companies in Bulgaria.
Jan 29

Rebroadcasting of Rossiya RTR in Latvia banned for three months due to hate speech on the part of Solovyov and Zhirinovsky
The National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) on Thursday decided to ban rebroadcasting and distribution of Russian television channel Rossiya RTR in Latvia for a period of three months, the council told LETA.
Jan 31

Lithuanian regulator warns Russian channels
The Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK) has issued a warning to First Baltic Channel Lietuva for violating the country’s Law on Public Information. In a statement, it says that having met on January 30 to discuss a programme aired on the channel earlier in the month, it concluded that a violation had taken place.
Jan 31

Russia’s Playbook for Social Media Disinformation Has Gone Global
Twitter said on Thursday that countries including Bangladesh and Venezuela had been using social media to disseminate government talking points, while Facebook detailed a broad Iranian disinformation campaign that touched on everything from the conflict in Syria to conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11 attacks.
Jan 31

Mayor’s murder pushes Polish media to look hard at itself
While the murder lacked a clear political motive, it has shone light on deep political and media polarization in Poland and has prompted calls for an end to the aggressive, sensationalist rhetoric—what some call hate speech—that has become commonplace in Polish media.
Jan 31

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