weCAN Digest March 2020

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

All the data, statistics, and trends you need to understand digital use in CEE countries in 2020, including the latest reported figures for the number of internet users, social media users, and mobile connections, and key indicators for ecommerce use.

Digitalisation isn’t instagrammable – and that’s a problem
[…] The fire that all but razed the famous Notre-Dame to the ground has received more than $800m in pledged reconstruction funds, but you would be hard-pressed to find the same amount of media coverage and financial support for topics that are at least equally ethically and economically devastating, such as homelessness.

1xBet losing Russian visibility after online video piracy crackdown
Online sports betting operator 1xBet is losing visibility in Russia due to efforts to crack down on illegal file-sharing websites. Mediascope data for Russia’s largest online video advertisers in the second half of 2019 showed the Curacao-licensed 1xBet failed to crack the top-20 after ranking eighth in the first six months of the year and third in the first quarter of 2019.
Febr 3

Israel-based Yotpo acquires Bulgaria’s SMSBump
Israeli e-commerce marketing platform developer Yotpo acquired Bulgaria-based developer of SMS marketing solutionsSMSBump on January 29, the Bulgarian company said.
Febr 3

Starcom Romania launches Social Media Stars Index
Starcom Romania created through Social Media Stars Index the top of the most followed accounts in the entertainment in social media. For creating the top it was analyzed and followed the online activity of over 900 accounts in Romania and their communities, with the purpose of offering an unified image on their activities in social media.
Febr 3

Viktor Orban’s dangerous export of ideologies
The Hungarian prime minister shells out large amounts of money to finance ethnic Hungarian minorities in neighboring countries. The backing goes hand-in-hand with media propaganda and creates parallel ethnic worlds.
Febr 3

Bulgaria’s Nova Broadcasting Group gets nod to become sole owner of Net Info
Bulgaria’s competition authority said on Monday that it has granted approval to Sofia-based Nova Broadcasting Group to acquire the remaining 30% it does not control in local online media and e-commerce group Net Info.
Febr 3

OTP, Intesa in battle to buy Romania’s Garanti bank
Hungary’s OTP Bank and Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo have reached the final stages of the race to buy Garanti BBVA’s Romanian unit, Romanian news outlet Ziarul Financiar (ZF) said on Monday, citing banking market sources.
Febr 3

ECtHR: Lithuania Discriminated Against Men Based on Their Sexual Orientation
Last month the ECtHR delivered its judgment in Pijus Beizaras and Mangirdas Levickas v. Lithuania. By refusing to investigate hate speech on social media, Lithuanian authorities discriminated against two men based on their sexual orientation.
Febr 3

Serbia: elections are approaching, pressure on the media is growing
The Telekom company, of which the state is the majority owner, has removed from its cable offer N1, the only television network aimed at the general public that also presents critical positions towards the current majority
Febr 4

GDPR in Hungary: A Road to Hell?
Confused about the difference between freedom of expression and privacy, a Hungarian court adopted last week a preliminary injunction obliging the local publisher of Forbes, an American business magazine, to recall from newsstands the issue of the magazine featuring the list of the richest Hungarians.
Febr 4

Russia’s push back against big tech has major consequences for Apple
Last month, Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize Apple for not unlocking two iPhones belonging to the Pensacola shooter, another volley in the struggle between big tech and the world’s governing bodies. But even the White House’s censure pales in comparison to the Kremlin’s ongoing plans. Apple, as the timing would have it, also happens to be in Vladimir Putin’s sights.
Febr 4

Serbia Mourns Journalism Legend Dragoljub Žarković
The media community in Serbia is paying tribute to the founder and long-time editor of the weekly ‘Vreme’ and prominent journalist Dragoljub Žarković – who has passed away.
Febr 5

No-Confidence Vote Topples Romania’s Second Govt in Months
After just three months in power, Romania’s centre-right government was toppled on Wednesday in a no-confidence vote initiated by the centre-left opposition – which was bitterly opposed to planned reforms of the electoral system.
Febr 5

OSCE warns Ukraine over disinformation bill
A new bill aimed at curbing the spread of disinformation in Ukraine could pose a risk to freedom of expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe warned on Wednesday. Unveiled by President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government in January, the bill criminalises “the dissemination of disinformation” amid a conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the country’s industrial east.
Febr 5

A Russian Propagandist Ran An Ad In The Washington Post — And Then Ran Victory Laps In Russian Media
The Washington Post may have violated US government sanctions when it ran an ad online from Russian propagandist Alexander Malkevich — and handed a propaganda coup to a man who appears to have been part of Russia’s interference with the 2018 midterm elections in the United States and has been pushing false information to sow political chaos across the globe.
Febr 6

OSCE Representative Désir concerned by search at 1+1 channel in Ukraine, calls on authorities to respect confidentiality of sources
Following yesterday’s search of the editorial office of 1+1 TV channel, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, called on the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that media activities are not obstructed and confidentiality of sources is respected.
Febr 6

Limits on Alcohol Advertising in Poland
The regulations on alcohol advertising in Poland are very restrictive and their interpretation is not consistent. Therefore, rulings given by the regulator and by the courts are setting a new framework for interpretation every year.
Febr 6

Samsung names new GM for Romania and Bulgaria
Samsung Electronics, one of the biggest producers of consumer electronics in the world, has appointed Hoon Seol as president of Samsung Electronics Romania and Bulgaria. He will manage the company’s operations of the two markets. Hoon Seol graduated from the Korea University in 1996 and joined Samsung the same year.
Febr 6

Bilčik and Fajon call for plurality of media for fair elections in Serbia
MEPs Tanja Fajon (S&D) and Vladimir Bilčik (EPP) called for Serbia to improve its electoral conditions, especially when it comes to the freedom of the media, and invited opposition to reconsider its boycott after concluding their meeting with the representatives of government and opposition in Belgrade.
Febr 7

Court upholds ban on nine Russian television channels in Latvia
The Administrative Regional Court has rejected a request by Pirmais Baltijas Kanals and TEM LV to suspend the National Electronic Mass Media Council’s (NEPLP) decision to ban the rebroadcasting of nine Russian television channels in Latvia, LETA was told at NEPLP.
Febr 7

How Russia influences Serbian media
In 2019, pro-Kremlin content targeting Serbian audiences was mainly distributed through Russian media platforms such as Sputnik Serbia or lesser-known web portals such as News Front and Geopolitica.
Febr 7

Attack against journalist and lawyer in Grozny, Russia, extremely concerning, OSCE Media Freedom Representative urges full and thorough investigation
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, strongly condemned today the attack on Novaya Gazeta’s investigative journalist Elena Milashina and lawyer Marina Dubrovina in Grozny, the capital of the Chechen republic of the Russian Federation.
Febr 7

Moscow Urges Tallinn to Comply With International Obligations Amid Pressure on Sputnik Estonia
The situation around Sputnik Estonia remains critical, as no progress can be seen, Russian Ambassador to Tallinn Alexander Petrov said, calling on the Baltic nation to comply with its obligations on freedom of the media.
Febr 10

Two Panicmongers Prosecuted for Spreading Fake News about Coronavirus ‘Deaths’
Police have raised charges against two people for disseminating fake news online that people had dropped dead in Budapest’s Keleti railway station due to coronavirus. The two suspects, a man and a woman, have been charged with endangering the public, the National Police Headquarters said on its website on Saturday.
Febr 10

Latvia may cut share of Russian-language TV content to 20%
In Latvia, the share of Russian-language programs on television may be cut down to 20%. President Egil Levits turned to the Seimas Commission on Human Rights and Public Affairs, putting forward a proposal to revise the law on electronic media and increase to 80% the share of TV programs in the official languages of the EU and the Eurozone, according to CurrentTime.
Febr 11

Sanader Once Again Pleads Not Guilty in Fimi Media Corruption Trial
The former prime minister and leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, Ivo Sanader, on Tuesday once again pleaded not guilty in a retrial in the Fimi Media corruption case, in which he, the HDZ and former party leaders stand accused of siphoning money from state institutions and companies between 2003 and 2009.
Febr 11

NBI Examines Hungarian Funding of SDS-Friendly Media
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI, Nacionalnega preiskovalnega urada – NPU, “Slovenia’s FBI”)) is investigating the funding of some media outlets close to the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), public broadcaster TV Slovenia reported. The police refuse to comment.
Febr 11

Russia’s ‘Heinous’ Sentencing Of Seven Activists Sparks Social Media Outrage
A Russian regional court’s “heinous” sentencing of seven activists to long prison terms has ignited outrage on social media, with some critics drawing parallels to the show trials of the Stalin era.
Febr 11

What jobs do Slovaks apply for most often?
Journalism is becoming a popular field among Slovaks. The website Profesia.sk claimed media-related jobs were a new favourite among job seekers in 2019. A total of 37 job seekers applied for one position in the field of journalism and media last year.
Febr 11

Romani TV channel plugs media gap in Hungary
The message from a dingy Budapest studio is slick. Grinning staff of Hungarian cable channel Dikh TV shout at the camera: “About the Roma but not just for the Roma!” The promotional slot captures the mission of Hungary’s first dedicated Roma TV station: to bring the culture of their marginalised community to a wider audience.
Febr 12

Russian troll farm offspring picks Lithuanian soldiers for propaganda
RIA FAN, a Russian news agency linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin behind the troll farm in St Petersburg, republished a story by LRT English. After changing the angle, the Russian translation is now being shared across Slovak disinformation groups on Facebook.
Febr 12

NEPLP may be allowed to assess beneficial owners of electronic mass media
It is necessary to set specific criteria based on which it will be possible to assess beneficial owners of electronic mass media. This is a matter of state security, said Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee chairman Artuss Kaimiņš, stressing that it is important to think about the ways individuals are able to legalize their content in Latvia’s information space.
Febr 12

Gambling ad warnings to become mandatory in Lithuania
The inclusion of warnings on gambling ads will become mandatory in Lithuania from July, following the introduction of new legislation. This law was passed by the Vilnius Seimas (Parliament). The country’s gambling authority will decide what must be included in displayed warnings.
Febr 12

Putin’s Number One man in Ukraine sues media to hide Soviet past
Victor Medvedchuk is a Ukrainian oligarch and people’s deputy (legislator) from the pro-Russian political party Opposition Platform — For Life. Putin is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter — the significance of which should not be lost on anyone.
Febr 13

Romanian Journalists Ask President Iohannis Not To Promulgate Law On Tax Facilities Granted To Them
Several journalists have signed an open letter asking President Klaus Iohannis not to promulgate the law on tax relief granted to them, a law initiated by PSD and recently voted in Parliament.
Febr 13

Sejm passes amendment granting 2 bln zlotys compensation for public media. Controversial gesture by PiS MP
The Sejm on Thursday disregarded the Senate’s call to reject the amendment to the broadcasting act and the license fees act which assumes nearly 2 billion zlotys of compensation in 2020 for Polish Television (TVP) and Polish Radio. The bill will now be sent to the president in order to be signed into law.
Febr 13

Huawei’s Backdoor in Estonia: Ex-Ministers Hired for Last Minute Lobby Efforts
Battling to stay in the competition for building Estonia’s 5G network, the tech giant Huawei has hired a lobby firm with three ex-ministers on board in an attempt to use their political influence and push back the decision to exclude the Chinese company due to security concerns.
Febr 16

Google presented Lithuanian initiative to world
The Internet giant Google has presented its video about Debunk EU during the Google News Initiative’s conference in Amsterdam, which attracted 183 media representatives from 29 countries. The initiative had originated in Lithuania and it helps countering disinformation.
Febr 17

Ukraine fights back in TV war with Russia but lacks bigger picture
In his first New Year’s Eve address as the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged his compatriots to make unity their “national idea” in 2020.
Febr 17

Croatia’s new president Milanovic takes office, urges solidarity
Croatia’s new president Zoran Milanovic urged more solidarity in society as he formally took office on Tuesday, and called for vigilance against populist approaches to issues such as climate change that may distort or ignore scientific facts.
Febr 18

Digital political advertising in the Czech Republic
Over the last couple of years, the importance of digital political advertising has grown substantially. While the discussion on the transparency of digital political advertising is a prominent topic at the EU level, in the Czech debate on digital threats to democracy it is largely missing from the picture.
Febr 18

U.S. Ambassador warns Czech Republic not to approve digital ‘GAFA tax’
U.S. Ambassador in Prague Stephen King warned Czech officials not to pass a so-called ‘GAFA tax’ on large internet companies. […] In a letter sent to the Czech Chamber of Deputies, cited by local business daily Hospodarske Noviny, Washington’s top envoy to the Czech Republic told lawmakers that the tax was “discriminatory” and unfairly targeted U.S. businesses and that, if passed into law, could prompt the U.S. administration to take retaliatory measures against the Czech Republic.
Febr 18

Crowdfunding Campaigns Give Boost to Independent Czech Media
“Budoucnost je teď!” (The Future Is Now!) is the eye-grabbing name chosen by the independent Czech news website Alarm for its latest project, financed by a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Febr 18

Do European media take climate change seriously enough?
Though climate change is now regularly acknowledged to be “the defining story of our time” by media worldwide, many European media outlets have yet to formulate a clearly defined editorial policy on covering the issue, a new survey by the European Journalism Observatory has found.
Febr 18

Slovenian companies finally can do business on Amazon Europe
As of Wednesday, Slovenian companies are able to do business on Amazon Europe, which comes with a delay as the US tech company had to make technical adjustments to include Slovenia among supported countries, the Slovenian Ministry of Economic Development and Technology has announced.
Febr 19

Crimean Journalist Semena Moves To Mainland Ukraine ‘Indefinitely’
RFE/RL contributor Mykola Semena — a journalist who has been convicted of separatism in Ukraine’s Russia-occupied Crimea region before a court there expunged his criminal record — has arrived in Kyiv following his release from detention in Simferopol.
Febr 19

A Viral Email About Coronavirus Had People Smashing Buses And Blocking Hospitals
A dangerous mix of fear and fake news about the coronavirus has sparked violent protests in Ukraine, despite there being no confirmed cases in the country. Protests and clashes with riot police have broken out in several places after a mass email claiming to be from Ukraine’s health ministry spread false information that there were five cases of coronavirus in the country, on the same day a plane carrying evacuees from China arrived.
Febr 20

Serbia Urged to Come Clean on Journalists’ Surveillance
After an embarrassing gaffe by the Defence Minister, Reporters Without Borders has called on the authorities to reveal whether emails between opposition politicians and the media are being monitored.
Febr 20

LRT FACTS. How did Estonia force Russia’s Sputnik to close?
Estonia sanctioned Dmitry Kiselyov, the scandalous head behind Sputnik Estonia. As of January, the offices of the Russian propaganda outlet in the Baltic country have been empty.
Febr 20

Estonia starts building 100-million-euro data center
An Estonian tech company has kicked off construction of the Baltic states’ largest commercial data center, an estimated 100-million-euro ($108-million) project aimed at large financial services, telecom and technology firms in the region.
Febr 20

Break-up Bosnia to solve its political crisis, says one of country’s leaders
One of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders has renewed calls for the country’s dissolution, pledging to block decision-making in the country’s government. Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who is one of the three officials that make up the head of state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said after a meeting with Bosnian Serb leaders the political crisis in the country “will disappear only when Bosnia disappears”.
Febr 20

The Victim Becomes the Perpetrator
It is difficult to estimate how far the anti-Polish political and media campaign will go, inspired and instigated by actions from the Kremlin. It may have far-reaching consequences for Russian citizens’ relationship with Poland and the Poles.
Febr 20

Russian channel offensive hits Slovakia
Antik Telecom has become the first operator in Slovakia to offer its users a specially prepared package of Russian TV channels. Available free of charge until the end of February and €3.90 a month thereafter, it consists of 16 channels of various genres. They include Channel One Russia, Carousel, Vremya, Dom Kino, Muzika Pergovo and Russian Travel Guide.
Febr 20

In memory of Ján Kuciak: The immortal search for truth
The immortality of truth versus the mortality of power-hungry oligarchs: Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak was shot dead because of his work. Two years after his murder, it is still unclear who ordered his death.
Febr 21

Ukraine bans Viasat channel
The Ukrainian regulator National Council has removed TV 1000 East from the list of foreign channels that complies with the requirements of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television and Ukrainian legislation.
Febr 21

Georgia reports massive cyber-attack ‘carried out by Russia’
Georgia’s foreign ministry announced on Thursday (20 February) that a massive cyber-attack had taken place against its state institutions and media, and that investigations have shown that Russia was responsible for it.
Febr 21

Coronavirus: US says Russia behind disinformation campaign
Thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts have launched a coordinated effort to spread misinformation and alarm about coronavirus, disrupting global efforts to fight the epidemic, US officials have said.
Febr 22

Hungary outlines DVB-T2 transition
The technology used to distribute the Hungarian pay-DTT platform MinDig TV Extra will change from March 3. According to its operator Antenna Hungária, the transition to DVB-T2 will take place in 10 steps between March and August, with the first phase affecting subscribers in the north east and east of the country.
Febr 24

New RTL channel for Croatia
RTL Hrvatska is set to launch a new channel today (Monday, February 24). According to T Portal, it will be named RTL Adria and offer viewers the best films and series from the countries that made up the former Yugoslavia.
Febr 24

Disinformation sharpened tensions between Serbia and Montenegro as media misrepresented religion freedom law
The adoption of the Law on Freedom of Religion enacted by the Montenegrin Parliament on 27 December 2019 attracted significant media attention across the region and, especially, in Serbia. Coverage mainly focused on provisions related to the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) in Montenegro.
Febr 24

€40m JCDecaux Arbitration against the Czech Republic
JCDecaux SA, the number one outdoor advertising company worldwide invited the Czech Republic to engage in discussions. This is the first step in arbitration proceedings pursuant to the Bilateral Investment Treaties between France, Austria and the Czech Republic of 1990.
Febr 25

Senator Rubio seeks U.S. review of sale of AT&T unit to Czech-owned conglomerate
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio on Wednesday asked the Trump administration to review the national security implications of AT&T’s Inc’s planned sale of its majority stake in Central European Media Group Enterprises (CME) to the Czech-owned conglomerate PPF Group.
Febr 26

Slovenia president names center-right Janez Jansa as PM candidate
Slovenian President Borut Pahor on Wednesday named a former prime minister Janez Jansa, the head of the largest party in parliament, as a candidate for a new prime minister and asked parliament to confirm him.
Febr 26

Tet, University of Latvia develop new algorithm for targeted TV, advertising
Latvian fixed operator Tet, in collaboration with the University of Latvia, has developed a big data-based algorithm for profiling a TV audience. This is expected to allow for more effective planning of TV content and advertising placement, as well as enabling personalised advertising in the future.
Febr 26

Company use of social media lowest in Romania: Eurostat
One in two European Union–based enterprises are using social media. But that, unfortunately, isn’t the case for Romanian companies, according to the latest statistics revealed by Eurostat. [… ]And in last place – as in so many things – is Romania with only 33 percent, ranking below Bulgaria, where 34 percent of enterprises use social media, Poland (37 percent), and Hungary (38 percent).
Febr 26

New Ukraine media bills threaten press freedom
Despite assurances made by Ukraine’s recently elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to guarantee press freedom, this January the country’s culture minister introduced two bills that would seriously threaten it.
Febr 26

Bulgarian Enterprises Are Among The Slowest Adopters Of Social Media In EU
According to Eurostat data, in 2019, 50% of enterprises in the European Union (EU) are using at least one type of social media, which shows a growth of 16 percentage points since 2014. For the purposes of the research, social media includes social networks, blogs or microblogs, multimedia content sharing websites, wiki-based knowledge-sharing tools.
Febr 26

UK media regulator fines Baltic Media Alliance and NTV Mir Baltic for violations
The British media regulator Ofcom has imposed a £20,000 fine (around EUR 24,000) on Baltic Media Alliance Limited in relation to its service NTV Mir Baltic for failing to comply with broadcasting rules, the regulator said in a statement referred LETA.
Febr 27

Poland: journalist investigated for coverage of Gdansk mayor’s assassination
The decision to open a criminal investigation into journalist Katarzyna Wlodkowska’s reporting on last year’s assassination of Gdansk’s mayor constitutes an escalation in the Polish judicial system’s intimidation of independent media and journalists, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.
Febr 27

Slovak businessman tried for reporter’s murder jailed for 19 years in TV station scam
A Slovak businessman charged with the 2018 murder of a journalist in a case that brought down the government was sentenced on Thursday to 19 years jail in a separate trial for forging documents to steal money from a TV station.
Febr 27

Serbia Broadband enhances new generation TV offer
Serbia Broadband (SBB) has added a new package to its advanced TV service Eon. Available to users outside the SBB network, Eon Sport and Family consists of 29 sports and family channels, 17 of which are in HD. It also comes with one Eon Smart TV app and three Eon mobile apps allowing viewers to watch their favourite shows, series or matches on their phones, tablets or PCs.
Febr 27

Social Media a Help and Hindrance in Balkan Coronavirus Fight
Coronavirus rumours are spreading like wildfire on social media in the Balkans, while governments, scientists and concerned citizens use the same medium to keep people better informed.
Febr 27

Oiling Orbán’s Propaganda Machine
An influential cheerleader for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has pumped over 3.2 million euros into his North Macedonian media network under the guise of questionable advertising purchases. The money was transferred to two North Macedonian media companies belonging to Peter Schatz, a Hungarian media executive, from another company he owns in Slovenia.
Febr 28

Orbán’s media machine in the Balkans investigated for suspicious transactions
“Soros organizations are trying to dismantle NATO,” a website named Ripost wrote last December, based on the analysis of a pro-government Hungarian think tank. One month prior, another Ripost article quoted Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, who claimed that Georg Soros’ dream is to flood Europe with millions of immigrants.
Febr 28

Zelensky, Ukraine media groups agree to launch non-coded satellite versions of major TV channels
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and top managers of major Ukrainian media groups have met to agree on the launch of non-coded satellite versions of major Ukrainian TV channels by March 16.
Febr 28

Ukraine’s prime minister submits resignation again
Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk submitted his resignation for a second time after reports that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy might be gearing up to sack him, Ukrainian news outlet NV reported on Friday night.
Febr 29

Anti-corruption opposition wins Slovakia election
The Slovak opposition won Saturday’s parliamentary elections but now looks set to enter coalition talks to form a government. The clear winner was the center-right Ordinary People party of Igor Matovič with more than 25 percent support. With nearly all votes counted, the five parties calling themselves the “democratic opposition” had received nearly 50 percent of the vote.
Febr 29

Tele2 : 51% of families in Latvia do not watch TV programs together
51 percent of households in Latvia do not watch TV programs together, instead, each family member chooses to watch his or her own programs, according to a poll conducted by Tele2 mobile operator.
Febr 29

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