weCAN Digest June 2019

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

Serbia’s Anti-Government Protests Continue For Half A Year
Thousands marched in Belgrade on June 1 to protest against the Serbian government, in rallies that have taken place every Saturday since December. The rallies began in reaction to an assault on Serbian Left opposition party leader Borko Stefanovic. The demonstrators soon added more demands, including a call for the resignation of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Jun 2

Bulgaria’s 2019 European elections: 3.2M leva spent on paid media coverage
Parties, coalitions and independent candidates that stood in Bulgaria’s May 26 2019 European Parliament elections spent a total of more than 3.28 million leva (about 1.67 million euro) on paid coverage in the media, according to research posted on the Open Parliament website.
Jun 2

United Group buys Croatia’s Tele2
Balkan telecoms and media company United Group has acquired Croatian telecoms operator Tele2 Croatia for 220 million euros, in order to expand its presence in south-eastern Europe. The transaction now requires approval from the relevant regulatory bodies including the Croatian Competition Agency, and its closing is expected before the end of 2019.
Jun 3

Media council in Latvia says «fast loan» advertisements should not be restricted
National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) has once again turned to Saeima speaker Ināra Mūrniece with a request to postpone the coming into force amendments to the Consumer Rights Protection Law.
Jun 3

Nielsen expands ad measurement on YouTube across 26 new markets
Nielsen has expanded its offering to these markets: Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Jun 3

European Digital Advertising Market Exceeds €55bn in 2018
IAB Europe, the leading European-level industry association for the digital advertising ecosystem, announced at its annual Interact conference today in Warsaw that digital advertising grew 13.9 percent in 2018 to €55.1bn, driven by strong growth in video, mobile and social spend. This is the fastest growth since 2011 and has seen the market more than double in size since 2012.
Jun 4

SVOD takes off in Poland
Over a third (36%) of Polish internet users watch VOD content online on a daily basis, according to the findings of VideoTrack 4, the latest study produced by the agency Wavemaker. Furthermore, one in two of those who access on demand content pay for it.
Jun 4

Tinder is complying with a Russian government order to cooperate with its spy agencies — but insists it has not handed over any user data
Dating app Tinder has agreed to comply with an order from the Russian government asking it to join a list of companies required to share data with its security agencies. However, the company says it has not yet handed over any users data, leaving open the possibility that it could refuse a request from Russian authorities if it were made.
Jun 4

The co-author of a bombshell NYT story about Joe Biden’s ties to Ukraine just became the Ukrainian president’s new spokesperson
The New York Times is standing by a bombshell story about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s ties to Ukraine after one of the authors recently became the Ukrainian president’s spokesperson.
Jun 4

Russia’s Yandex Reportedly Ordered By FSB To Hand Over Encryption Keys
Russian media reported that Yandex, the country’s largest search engine, has refused to turn over encryption keys that would give the country’s law enforcement the ability to decode its entire e-mail traffic.
Jun 4

Digital advertising grows 13.9% bolstered by mobile, video and social
Digital advertising increased 13.9% to €55.1 billion in 2018 largely driven by mobile, video and social ad expenditure, according to new figures presented by the IAB Europe. This marks the fastest growth since 2011 with the market doubling since 2012. Out-stream video grew 44.7% in 2018 whilst in-stream grew 19.7%.
Jun 5

Russia’s manipulation of Twitter was far vaster than believed
Russia’s infamous troll farm conducted a campaign on Twitter before the 2016 elections that was larger, more coordinated and more effective than previously known, research from cybersecurity firm Symantec out Wednesday concluded.
Jun 5

Hungary and Serbia have found new ways to smother the media
In April 2018, Hungary’s Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party won their third parliamentary supermajority, securing 49 percent of the vote and trouncing the fragmented opposition. A year earlier, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic won an outright victory in his bid for the presidency, taking 55 percent of the vote and preempting the need for a presidential runoff for the first time in Serbia’s history.
Jun 5

Google drawn into Ukrainian/Russian ‘hybrid war’
The Ukrainian regulator National Council has asked Google to prevent the blocking of its satellite TV channel ATR T (TK-Atlant-SV) on YouTube. In a statement, it says that the reason for its appeal is a claim by the Russian regulator Roskomnadzor that the channel violates Russian legislation on information, information technology and information protection.
Jun 5

Facebook appoints public policy manager for Ukraine
“Kateryna Kruk has officially announced that Facebook, an international corporation, has officially chosen her to be Public Policy Manager for Ukraine, [she will be] based in Warsaw,” Deputy Information Policy Minister Dmytro Zolotukhin said on Facebook on June 3.
Jun 5

Huge protests in Prague demand resignation of Czech PM Andrej Babiš
Organisers say up to 120,000 people have protested in the Czech capital Prague calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis. The protest is one of the biggest seen in the country since the fall of communism in 1989.
Jun 5

Orban-style ‘media capture’ is spreading across Europe
Imagine a Europe where news media are controlled by cartels of governments and oligarchs. Prime ministers give lucrative advertising contracts to press companies that support them and financially punish those that don’t to the point of extinction.
Jun 6

Serbian Journalism in Free Fall
All eyes are currently resting on Hungary and other media freedom bashers across Europe – but it is actually in Serbia where independent journalism is hitting the skids at an alarming pace. If one perused the recently released World Press Freedom Index, which measures the state of journalism in the world, Serbia’s ranking would surely be an eye-catcher.
Jun 6

Report: Ad spending in Romania at EUR 454 million in 2018
The advertising expenditure in Romania reached EUR 454 million in 2018, up 10% year-on-year according to the 2019 Media Fact Book, released by media agency Initiative. The same report estimates a 7% growth for 2019, up to EUR 485 million as negative developments in the local economy reflect in slower growth pace for the media market.
Jun 6

New HbbTV service for Lithuania
The Lithuanian Radio and Television Centre (Telecentras), together with national TV and radio companies and TV producer representative offices in the country, have launched a new HbbTV service.
Jun 6

TV in Croatia: the stats
IPTV remains the most popular TV reception method in Croatia, with the number of subscribers standing at 428,764 at the end of Q1 this year. This, according to the latest data published by the regulator HAKOM, was 3.75% more than in the corresponding period last year.
Jun 7

Russian disinformation on YouTube draws ads, lacks warning labels: researchers
Fourteen Russia-backed YouTube channels spreading disinformation have been generating billions of views and millions of dollars in advertising revenue, according to researchers, and had not been labeled as state-sponsored, contrary to the world’s most popular streaming service’s policy.
Jun 7

Russia to make its own show about Chernobyl that implicates the US
Russian state TV is working on its own version of Chernobyl, a series based on the worst nuclear accident in history. The NTV drama will deviate from the acclaimed HBO series – and from historical reality – by claiming that the CIA was involved in the disaster.
Jun 7

Russia Plans to Block Major VPNs as Next Step in Closing Up Internet
Russia is getting closer to implementing the sort of internet regulations that exist under the Great Firewall of China. Earlier this year, internet providers began preparing to conduct tests to find out if Russia can build an internet disconnected from the rest of the world. Now, Russia plans to block major VPN (virtual private network) services that allow users to reach banned websites.
Jun 7

Evren Bondarenko to head Media Group Ukraine
Evren Bondarenko has been appointed the director of Media Group Ukraine (MGU), effective June 10. Bondarenko served as COO in StarLightMedia Group for the last seven years, prior to which he held positions at EastOne Management and TNK-BP Ukraine.
Jun 10

Russian Investigative Journalist Ivan Golunov Released After Government Drops All Charges
In a stunning turnaround, Russian authorities Tuesday abruptly dropped all charges against a prominent investigative reporter after a public and media outcry over his arrest, and they promised to go after the police who allegedly tried to frame him as a drug dealer.
Jun 11

RFE/RL Formally Relaunches Bulgarian Service
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has formally dedicated its new bureau in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, marking a return to a region where media freedom and independence is under threat.
Jun 13

Slovenia has received bids from Apollo, OTP for Abanka -Delo
Slovenia has received bids for its third largest bank, Abanka, from U.S. investment fund Apollo and Hungarian bank OTP, daily newspaper Delo reported on Friday.
Jun 14

Bulgaria’s FSC rejects Web Media Group capital increase prospectus
Bulgaria’s Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) said that it has refused to approve the capital increase prospectus of local Web Media Group. In April, Web Media Group said that it will seek to raise up to 9 million levs ($5.2 million/4.6 million euro) in a capital increase via a new share issue. The company will offer 7.5 million shares for subscription at a price of 1.2 levs apiece.
Jun 14

Broadcaster warns of “slow strangulation” of media plurality in Serbia
The owner of N1, one of the few remaining mainstream independent media outlets in Serbia, says media plurality in the EU accession candidate country is subject to “slow strangulation”. The 24-hour news and current affairs platform owned by private equity-backed telecoms and media company United Group has documented numerous incidents of hate speech against its journalists, in which they are called “scum”, “traitors” and other derogatory terms, and threatened with explicit violence.
Jun 14

Ukrainian politician Taras Kozak becomes new owner of 112 Ukraine, creates media holding NOVOSTI
On June 14, 2019 the Ukrainian politician Taras Kozak became a new and a sole owner of the TV broadcasters of ZIK TV channel – of Most TV and TRK New Communications. Therefore, Kozak owns three TV channels: 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK.
Jun 14

Czechs alarmed as populist leaders take aim at public media
Czech journalists and media analysts are raising alarm over the “threat” to the country’s public media from mounting pressure on the press by populist politicians.
Jun 15

Two Bulgarian reporters subjected to absurd judicial probe
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office to explain the absurd judicial probe it has launched against two investigative reporters who exposed a real estate scandal implicating senior officials, including prosecutor-general Sotir Tzatsarov himself.
Jun 18

Czech media landscape “shifting towards domestic tycoons”
According to a wide-ranging international study by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute, “the Czech media market has experienced further ownership concentration with control shifting towards domestic tycoons” in the past year.
Jun 18

Ukraine’s MGU teams up with GoQuest
Media Group Ukraine (MGU) has entered into a content distribution agreement with Mumbai-based GoQuest Media Ventures.
Jun 19

Ukrainian Investigative Journalist Who Asked ‘Inconvenient Questions’ Dies After Attack
An investigative journalist in Ukraine’s central city of Cherkasy has died six weeks after being attacked by an unknown assailant. Serhiy Tomilenko, the head of Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists, wrote in a posting on Facebook on June 20 that Vadym Komarov had succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the May 4 attack, which remains under investigation.
Jun 20

Poland’s ruling party plans to ‘repolonise’ media if re-elected
Poland’s Law and Justice party will aim to “repolonise” the country’s private media if it wins elections this year, according to deputy prime minister, Jaroslaw Gowin. The ruling party has long argued that Poland’s media landscape — in which German and US groups have a prominent role — needs reform, claiming foreign participants have an outsized influence over Polish public debate.
Jun 20

Wowcher faces backlash from charities for Chernobyl holiday advertising
Under the description for the holiday excursion, it advertises the chance for “history buffs or fans of the hit HBO TV show” to visit the “famous power plant” and the abandoned Kopachi Village, as well as “collapsed schools, run-down hospitals and derelict cinemas”.
Jun 21

Russian content loses favour in Lithuania
Lithuanian commercial broadcasters showed less Russian TV content in 2018 than the previous year. At the same time, according to the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania (LRTK), only one of five leading broadcasters monitored during a one-week period showed more European productions than in 2017.
Jun 26

Survey: Close to 40% of people in Serbia don’t trust the media
Belgrade-based daily Danas cited survey results which showed that 39% of people in Serbia do not trust the media while just 23% partly or fully trust the media. The survey results were presented at the Media Talks conference which was organized by USAID. The poll of 1,500 people was conducted by the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID) NGO.
Jun 26

How Czech media reported about the largest protest since 1989
Europeans were stunned by the magnitude of protests in Prague on Sunday (23 June): reportedly some 250,000 people demanded that Prime Minister Andrej Babiš step down over allegations of corruption. But what was even more stunning is the way the Czech media reported about them.
Jun 26

Rise of Estonia’s populist right sends journalists packing
Estonia’s conservative populists have taken aim at their media critics since joining the country’s government. High-profile journalists have quit their jobs as a result, and now warn that press freedom may be in danger.
Jun 27

Exclusive: Western intelligence hacked ‘Russia’s Google’ Yandex to spy on accounts – sources
Hackers working for Western intelligence agencies broke into Russian internet search company Yandex in late 2018, deploying a rare type of malware in an attempt to spy on user accounts, four people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Jun 27

Slovakia’s first woman president asked about outfit changes in press conference
Slovakia’s first female president, Zuzana Čaputová, was asked about her outfit changes in a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday. Čaputová chose Brussels as her second official visit since being inaugurated in June.
Jun 27

Vestager Tax Crusade Stutters as Hungary Wins EU Court Clash
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban initially levied the ad tax in 2016 by slapping a rate of as high as 50% of sales for the biggest networks, which RTL Klub, the country’s most-watched commercial TV channel, called a “brute attempt to ruin” one of the last independent media outlets.
Jun 27

Czech government survives no-confidence vote but cabinet still fragile
The Czech minority government led by the populist ANO party on Thursday survived a vote of no confidence in parliament after public protests against Prime Minister Andrej Babis, but the cabinet’s fate was still in the balance.
Jun 27

Pro-Orban media moguls who destroyed Hungary’s media now targeting European outlets
A buying spree by Orban’s oligarchs across Europe means more far-right news outlets and more danger to EU democracies
Jun 28

Data visualization: this is what the pro-government news media looks like
According to our calculations 112 newspapers, online media outlets, outdoor advertising companies, radio and TV stations belong to the media empire serving the Hungarian government. These are the companies that spread the Fidesz party’s messages around the country. How did this media conglomerate emerge and how are they connected? We visualized the network and how it emerged.
Jun 30

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