weCAN Digest June 2020

Media monitoring of the latest news about the media and advertising markets of CEE from May:

Polsat to acquire Polish web portal Interia
Polish commercial broadcaster and pay TV group Polsat is to acquire leading Polish-language internet portal Interia from Bauer Media Group.
May 1

Poland approves VOD “contribution”
The Polish parliament (Sejm) has adopted an amendment to the Act on Cinematography that will require providers of on demand services to pay 1.5% of their revenues to the Polish Film Institute (PISF). According to Wirtualne Media, the amendment was included in legislation on protection measures in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.
May 1

905 Lawsuits Against Journalists and Media Outlets Active in Croatia
There are currently 905 active lawsuits against journalists and media outlets in Croatia, with plaintiffs seeking nearly HRK 68 million, the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) said on Friday, presenting the findings of a survey conducted among the media at the beginning of the year.
May 2

BIRN Wins Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Award
To mark World Press Freedom Day on Sunday, campaign group Reporters Without Borders Austria awarded the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network with its annual Press Freedom Award – A Signal for Europe.
May 3

Poland plans “Netflix tax” to support film industry
Earlier this week, Poland’s Finance Minister Tadeusz Koscinski unveiled his plans to introduce a 1.5% surcharge on the revenue of video-on-demand platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple TV+.
May 3

CNN Prima debuts in Czech Republic
The Czech FTV Group and CNN International Commercial have partnered to launch the CNN Prima news channel in the Czech Republic. CNN Prima News is the ninth channel that FTV Prima operates. Its broadcast includes local news covered by Prima reporters together with international news from CNN.
May 4

Romanian deep tech startup attracts EUR 330,000 for innovative technology
Romanian deep tech startup Humans announced that it attracted EUR 330,000 to develop an innovative technology capable of generating synthetic (AI-created) media. […] Humans said that its platform would generate, through its own technology, synthetic representations with the consent of the holders of the data, which it will distribute through a B2B model to various industries – from production and media sourcing, advertising and security, to courses and live video conferencing.
May 4

Serbia’s fall on media freedom list: “If it continues like this, there will no longer be anything to measure”
Serbia welcomed World Press Freedom Day by falling again on the recently published media freedom ranking list by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF). After falling three places on the list, Serbia ranks 93rd – 34 places worse than in 2016, the last time when improvement in the level of media freedom was recorded.
May 5

Interview with Ennis Cehic, Author of “New Metonyms Bosnia and Herzegovina” Book
Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ennis Cehic is a writer living and working between Melbourne and Sarajevo. His writing focuses on ideas of displacement, creativity, identity and existentialism. […] He adds that through short stories where he dwells on the absurd and surreal, he likes deviating, expanding everyday reality into fiction. He also writes essays about the impact advertising has on culture. This subject, in particular, is deeply interesting to him because he has worked in the advertising industry as a creative for the past thirteen years.
May 5

New DTH platform for Bulgaria
A new satellite TV service named neosat will be launched in Bulgaria on June 1. Capital > reports that it will be operated by Maxim Zayakov, one of the two founders of Bulsatcom, who left the company two years ago. It adds that neosat will employ BulgariaSat-1, which was launched in 2017 by Bulgaria Sat, now fully controlled by Zayakov following its separation from Bulsatcom.
May 6

DW Freedom of Speech laureate Blaz Zgaga attacked for critical remarks
Blaz Zgaga, a Slovenian investigative reporter and one of DW’s 2020 FOSA award recipients, has had to endure a barrage of online attacks for criticizing the government’s strategy in the coronavirus crisis.
May 6

How Slovakia Flattened the Curve
How has Slovakia successfully contained the coronavirus so far? First, let’s dispel the misconceptions. Slovakia hasn’t fared well against the coronavirus because of its isolation. […] This is where the third factor comes in. More than the functioning of public institutions, experts credit the media as crucial to Slovakia’s success. The universal use of face masks—instituted early despite the dismissive attitude of the World Health Organization—has become a symbol of Slovakia’s response to the coronavirus.
May 6

Hungary’s Orban ‘dropped any pretense’ of respecting institutions, Freedom House reports
Under the rule of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary is no longer a democracy, said the US watchdog Freedom House. The Hungarian government responded by claiming links between the group and billionaire George Soros.
May 6

Hungarian PM Posts Controversial Photo On Facebook With Ex-Great Hungary’s Map Including Transylvania
Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has posted a photo with the Great Hungary’s map, which also included Transylvania. The photo has been posted as Hungarian students are taking History exams these days. “56. Graduates make history. Come on // 56. My historical ex. Good luck!”, reads the Hungarian PM’s post accompanying the photo.
May 6

Poland’s Human Rights Commissioner slams state-run media
Public media is failing to fulfill their tasks envisaged for the presidential campaign, giving much more airtime to one of the candidates – Andrzej Duda – believes Adam Bodnar, Commissioner for Human Rights of Poland. He has sent two complaints regarding this matter to the head of TVP, a public Polish broadcaster, and the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT).
May 6

Poland’s independent media harassed in run-up to presidential election
Two journalists have been accused of violating sanitary rules while covering anti-government gatherings. In another case, the private television channel TVN has been a target of repeated attacks. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) asks the Polish authorities not to abuse the sanitary crisis to sabotage the work of independent media as they report on the electoral campaign.
May 7

Ukraine Media Leaders Sound Alarm on Oligarchical Control at Virtual VOA Town Hall
For the first time since achieving independence in 1991, Ukraine has ranked among the top 100 countries in the world for press freedom, according to Paris-based Reporters Without Borders. But observers and journalists on the ground in Kyiv paint a more nuanced picture of the former Soviet state’s media landscape.
May 7

Western Balkans media during COVID-19: Reporting on corruption became even harder
Media freedom represents a crucial element of a democracy and it has an even bigger role during extraordinary circumstances, one of them being the COVID-19 pandemic. As more power is given to the executive branch, especially in the countries where state of emergency was declared, it is necessary for media to fulfill their role as the ones who oversee and monitor the authorities.
May 8

New ‘fake news’ law stifles independent reporting in Russia on COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of states around the world have implemented criminal measures aimed at combatting the spread of misinformation about the virus on the internet and social media.
May 8

Slovenia cyclists hold anti-government protest
Thousands of people cycled through Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana on Friday to protest against the government. They accused Prime Minister Janez Jansa of using the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to restrict freedoms. They have alleged that Mr Jansa is attempting to increase police powers, inciting hatred against migrants, and making personal attacks on journalists.
May 9

Poland’s Polkomtel announces 5G commercial launch in 7 cities
Polish telecom network Plus will launch its 5G network in seven cities May 11. The Polkomtel Sp. z o.o.-operated telco will switch on the commercial 5G network in Warsaw, Gdansk, Katowice, Lodz, Poznan, Szczecin and Wroclaw, using a network of about 100 transporters and spectrum from the 2.6 GHz TDD frequency band.
May 9

In lockdown, Yandex evolves from Russia’s Google to its Amazon
With most residents confined to their homes in Moscow’s sixth week of lockdown, one familiar sight remains on the Russian capital’s near-empty streets: tech giant Yandex’s yellow-jacketed army of couriers.
May 11

‘The last days of independent media in Hungary’
The coronavirus crisis could be the final nail in the coffin of Hungary’s few remaining independent media outlets, completing the work of the government in finishing them off, experts say. With advertising in freefall, most media organisations have been forced to slash costs. Editors and analysts say it will be touch-and-go as to whether some survive over the next three to five months.
May 11

Poland holds ghost election with 0% turnout
Sunday’s presidential election in Poland had a record low turnout of 0%. The vote was not officially cancelled but polling stations stayed closed, leading to a strange ghost election after weeks of legal wrangling over whether or not it should go ahead.
May 11

Estonia passes ‘Huawei law’ for telecom security reviews
Estonia’s parliament approved on Tuesday a new Electronics Communications Act to ensure security reviews for telecom gear needed in the development of future networks. The act, which lawmakers dubbed the “Huawei law” in reference to the Chinese telecommunications company, leaves detailed implementation to the government and includes intelligence services among the reviewing authorities.
May 12

Noerr Advises Bauer Media Group on Sale of Romanian Publishing Business to Ringier
Noerr has advised the Bauer Media Group on the sale of its Romanian publishing business to Ringier. The Hamburg-headquartered Bauer Media Group currently employs a global workforce of around 11,500 people.The portfolio sold by Bauer includes Romanian TV program guides such as TV Mania and TV Satelit.
May 12

Janša Makes Case for “War with the Media”
Prime Minister Janez Janša makes the case for confrontation with the media in an essay entitled War with the Media, in which he argues that keeping silent while media wage war is not an option and has damaging effects on society.
May 12

Romania shuts down websites with fake COVID-19 news
The declaration of a state of emergency in Romania due to COVID-19 has brought with it a first for the country – the authorities have started to close down news sites for promoting false information related to the pandemic.
May 13

The Illusion of Control
Russia now faces a full-fledged COVID-19 crisis at home. The Russian media are diverting attention from the domestic situation and therefore is not reporting on prison riots, outbreaks and lockdowns across the country.
May 13

Netflix Donates 2.5M PLN to the Movie Industry in Poland
The Polish Producers Alliance (KIPA) and Netflix announced the creation of a new “Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund”. Its main goal is to help the Polish TV and movie industry professionals most inflicted by the COVID-19 crisis. Netflix will donate 2.5 million PLN (about 500,000 EUR) to KIPA to help launch the fund.
May 14

Croatia Accused of Slurring Watchdogs in Police Violence Dispute
Human rights organisations have accused Croatia’s Interior MInistry of trying to discredit independent journalism, after it dismissed media reports of police tagging migrants with paint.
May 14

Coronavirus: Art depicting Romania’s health workers as Christian saints slammed as ‘blasphemous’
Artwork depicting health workers on the COVID-19 frontline as Christian saints has riled the Romanian Orthodox Church. The controversial posters have been appearing across Bucharest and are part of a campaign to thank Romania’s medical staff.
May 15

Russia Pushes Google to Block Report on Low Virus Deaths, Probes NYT and FT
Russia’s state communications watchdog has demanded that Google block a Russian news website’s article on a Financial Times report about Russia’s possibly undercounted coronavirus deaths.
May 15

Hungary: ‘Critics silenced’ in social media arrests as EU debates Orban’s powers
Opposition politicians in Hungary are alarmed by a spate of detentions for alleged scaremongering on social media about the coronavirus pandemic. They fear that voices critical of the government are being silenced and accuse Prime Minister Viktor Orban of abusing special powers granted to him in March.
May 15

Hungary transposes EU rules on video-sharing platforms
On 5 May 2020, the Hungarian parliament adopted an amendment to the E-commerce Act transposing into national law the regulatory framework on video-sharing platforms (VSPs) included in Directive (EU) 2018/1808 amending Directive 2010/13/EU (AVMS Directive).
May 15

Serbia: Death threats to two journalists
Investigative journalist Slobodan Georgiev and a critical humoristic talk show host Ivan Ivanovic received online death threats from the same Twitter account. The police acted and arrested the person behind it.
May 16

Independent Bulgarian TV Station Accuses PM Of ‘Spreading False Rumors’ About Its Relationship With Exiled Oligarch
An independent Bulgarian television station has accused Prime Minister Boyko Borisov of “spreading false rumors” after he insinuated it was working at the behest of an exiled oligarch.
May 17

‘Momentum’ Protests with Sticker Campaign Against Govt’s New Billboards
“There’s an epidemic going on, not a campaign”- this is the main message of liberal party Momentum’s new initiative that places stickers with critical slogans on the government’s billboards advertising its economic action plan.
May 18

An army of volunteer ‘elves’ fights disinfo in the Czech Republic
With its whimsical name and profile picture of Cate Blanchett as Galadriel from the “Lord of the Rings” movie franchise, the Facebook page of the Czech Elves looks like yet another internet meme. But, while Tolkien’s fictional characters fought the Orcs of Mordor, this volunteer army battles real-life trolls.
May 19

Polish hit song on grieving ‘censored’, sparking protests
Polish public radio has been accused of censoring an anti-government song that topped the charts and was then removed from the station’s website. Kazik’s Your Pain is Better than Mine is widely seen as criticising the head of Poland’s ruling nationalist party. The host of the Trojka chart show has resigned along with two other DJs.
May 19

A1 Slovenia launches Zappware’s advanced TV solution
A1 Slovenia, part of Telekom Austria Group, launches its personalized TV solution deployed by Zappware. With A1 Xplore TV, A1 Slovenia launches its advanced personalized TV solution. After Bulgaria and Austria, the A1 Group solution is now released in the Slovenian market.
May 19

How a former Vice TV host came to launch Serbia’s most successful podcast
With many Serbian-language podcasts struggling to compete with Western media, Galeb Nikačević — who started out as an MTV host in the early 2000s — has found a way to draw local listeners in.
May 19

Viaplay will launch in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania next year – targeting an under-penetrated pay streaming market
Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) will launch its Viaplay streaming service in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the first quarter of 2021. The service will be made available via direct subscriptions and third-party partnerships. The expansion builds on Viaplay’s success in the Nordic region and recent launch in Iceland. Viaplay will offer Baltic viewers a combination of Viaplay originals, films and series, kids’ content and live sports.
May 20

Charges raised against scandalous Latvian blogger for invitation to «liquidate the Chinese»
Latvian office of the prosecutor has raised charges to Niks Endziņš for his publicly voiced invitation to exterminate people of a specific nationality, as reported by LETA. At the beginning of the year Endziņš caught the eye of law enforcers with a video in which he invited «liquidating the Chinese».
May 20

TV ad spend grows in Russia
Russia’s total ad spend in the first quarter amounted to R115-116 billion (€1.46-1.47 billion), or 4% more than in the same period last year. According to data published by the country’s Association of Communication Agencies (AKAR), TV accounted for R42.5-43 billion, up 3% on Q1 2019.
May 21

Kyivstar gears up to connect all of Ukraine with 4G
In May last year, Ukraine’s ex-president signed a decree to roll out the fifth-generation, or 5G, network in Ukraine, currently the fastest mobile data technology available. The deadline for the first launches was set for the end of 2020.
May 21

The Daily Signal: Ukraine extends quarantine on Russian social media
Although Ukraine began to ease off its national coronavirus lockdown last week, the country’s ongoing quarantine against Russian disinformation remains in full force. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky approved a measure Friday extending for another three years a national ban on Russian social media sites, email services, and internet search engines.
May 21

Httpool appointed as Advertising Sales Representatives for Snapchat in 15 European Markets
Httpool today announced that it will act as a sales representative for Snapchat in 15 European markets, including Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Poland, Romania, Greece, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. This partnership is an additional recognition for Httpool as a reliable and trusted partner of leading media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Spotify and others.
May 22

Latvia to launch Google-Apple friendly coronavirus contact tracing app
Latvia aims to become one of the first countries to launch a smartphone app using a new toolkit created by U.S. tech giants Apple and Alphabet’s Google to help trace coronavirus infections.
May 25

Major IPTV deal in Lithuania
Providence Equity Partners-backed Bite Lietuva has agreed to buy the internet, data transmission and IPTV business operated by Lithuania’s Telecentras. In a statement, Telecentras, which is the country’s national transmission company, says that Bite Lietuva was chosen because it bid the highest amount – over €20 million – for the business, which is being developed using the Mezon brand.
May 25

Advertising industry to lose PLN 1 bln
May 25

Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists opens anti-crisis hotline for media
The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine is launching an online crisis hotline for editorial offices that have suffered in connection with the Covid-19 quarantine. The National Union announced this on its website. The issues included loss of workplaces, reduction of circulation and subscription, debts to printing houses or for broadcasting television and radio signals, loss of advertisers and lack of funds for further activities.
May 25

Bringing reliable information during COVID-19 is a joint effort in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been facing many challenges since the start of the pandemic. They have been prevented from attending press conferences, attacked by policemen and are facing huge financial losses. However, they are finding support from unexpected places, and continue to have a strong ally in the journalists’ association, BH Novinari.
May 25

IREX:”On average, fake news is shared 927 times in Serbia”
Fake news is, on average, shared 927 times on social media in Serbia, the Executive Vice President of the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), Aleksandar Dardeli, told Voice of America.
May 25

Slovenia preparing tenders for allocating frequencies for mobile communications
Slovenia’s telecommunications regulator, AKOS, said it has started preparing public tenders for allocating radio frequencies for mobile technologies. In particular, AKOS plans to launch a tender for awarding radio frequencies in the 700 MHz, 1400/1500 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 3600 MHz and 26 GHz bands […].
May 25

London-based V4 Agency is Orbán’s propaganda machine disguised as global media product
A venture of Fidesz-allied political strategist Árpád Habony, bilingual news site V4NA channels misinformation between Hungary, Slovenia, and North Macedonia. The ambitions fuelling the self-styled news agency, however, are curtailed by its meagre capabilities.
May 25

Slovenia: Trump’s disciple attacks journalists and introduces a systemic change
Inspired by the U.S. President and backed by Hungarian oligarchs’ media investments, the Slovenian government wages hate campaigns against critical journalists, while attempting to tighten the control over the public television. Given the threats, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) asks for guarantees of the safety of journalists and of independence of the public broadcaster.
May 26

Ukrainian Court Finds Lviv Student Guilty Of Torching RFE/RL Reporter’s Car
A Ukrainian court has found a university student guilty of torching an RFE/RL reporter’s car, a decision that the media organization’s president said brings prosecutors closer to apprehending the organizers of the premeditated crime.
May 26

In October this year, the whole Czech Republic is supposed to use DVB-T2. The government approved the postponement of the transition date due to coron[avirus]
The government approved a proposal by the Ministry of Industry and Trade to change the schedule for DVB-T2, according to which, the transition to the new broadcasting standard, i.e. the 2nd generation of digital television, should be postponed by four months and end in October this year. It was temporarily suspended due to coronavirus.
May 27

RTV Slovenia Expands Partnership with Dalet to Transform End-to-End News Workflows for Radio and TV with Dalet Galaxy five
Dalet, a leading provider of solutions and services for broadcasters and content professionals, today announced that RTV Slovenia will migrate its entire news operations to Dalet Galaxy five. A Dalet radio customer for more than 25 years, Slovenia’s national broadcaster is expanding its partnership with Dalet to include its television news operation.
May 27

Strasbourg court finds Hungary violated journalists’ right of access to Parliament
The ECtHR has held today that Hungary violated the Article 10 freedom of expression rights of six journalists who, in April 2016, were subject to an indefinite ban preventing them from entering the premises of Hungary’s Parliament to carry out their work. The ban was imposed by the Speaker of Parliament due to the journalists’ filming and reporting from certain areas within the building, in violation of a particular Ruling of the Speaker of the Parliament.
May 27

Increased interest for the media literacy during COVID-19 pandemic
hird Media Literacy Days, organized by the Agency for Electronic Media (AEM) and UNICEF, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Science and Education, this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, are carried out online and continue to be of great interest to the general public.
May 28

Journalism Thrives in Slovakia Despite Growing Oligarchic Control
Slovaks have access to a plethora of news platforms, but many of them are in the hands of powerful financial corporations, closely linked with political groups. Nevertheless, swelling demand for accurate, quality information boosts the country’s independent journalism.
May 28

Serbia digital ad spend grows 28% in 2019
IAB Europe this month released the Serbia Digital Ad Spend Report 2019, where it states that the ad spend grew 28% between 2018 and 2019, year over year. According to the report, mobile ad spend in Serbia increased by 60% and video by 46%. IAB Serbia estimated that the total ad spend was 47 million euros, over 5 times higher than 10 years ago.
May 31

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