weCAN Digest November 2019

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

Comparative advertising with competitors is now allowed in Ukraine
On November 12, 2019, the parliament of Ukraine adopted the Law on amending certain legislative acts of Ukraine regarding the harmonization of legislation in the field of comparative advertising with the law of the European Union.

Russia internet: Law introducing new controls comes into force
A law introducing new controls on the internet has come into force in Russia amid concerns it may be used by the government to silence its critics. In theory, the “sovereign internet” law gives officials wide-ranging powers to restrict traffic on the Russian web.
Nov 1

Undercover reporter reveals life in a Polish troll farm
The undercover reporter, Katarzyna Pruszkiewicz, spent six months this year working at Cat@Net, which describes itself as an “ePR agency comprising specialists who build a positive image of companies, private individuals and public institutions – mostly in social media.”.
Nov 1

When the Czech cyber security agency issued an unprecedented warning against China’s telecoms giant, politicians clashed over national security. But was it anything more than political theatre?
Nov 1

First Croatian online network & social media platform
The first online network and social media platform for Croatians and people interested in Croatia has gone live. Australian-based tech company Kraljevic Technology have developed the Croatian online community and social network app Pleme which went live on the AppStore and the Google Play store 2 November.
Nov 2

Disney VOD expands in Ukraine
Disney Channel on Demand has launched on Volia in Ukraine. As a result, the cable operator now offers three channels from Disney – Disney Junior, containing blocks of programmes for pre-schoolers aged 2-7; Disney XD, showing mainly animation TV series aimed at teenagers; and Disney Channel, offering cartoons and series – in its on demand service Volia Cinema.
Nov 4

Slovak media are critical of extended moratorium on polls
The Association of Independent Radio and Television Stations (ANRTS) and the Association of Print and Digital Media (ATDM) regard a 50-day moratorium as an unacceptable and disproportionate interference in the freedom of expression, manifesting the abuse of political power.
Nov 5

Thirty Years: The Changing State of Freedom in Central Europe
Since 1972, Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World report has evaluated the condition of democracy in every country around the globe. It has tracked many gains and declines in all those years, but 1989 stands out as a singular watershed for freedom, especially in Central Europe.
Nov 5

HND Leaves Task Force Working on Electronic Media Bill
The executive committee of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) on Wednesday decided to leave the Ministry of Culture task force working on a bill on electronic media, the HND has reported.
Nov 6

The X-rated marketing campaign increasing tourism to this little visited country
“The G-spot of Europe,” read the adverts encouraging visitors to come to Vilnius. “Nobody knows where it is but when you find it — it’s amazing.” It was a controversial marketing campaign for the capital of Lithuania when it launched last year. For starters, the racy ads went live just weeks ahead of Pope Francis’s August 2018 visit to the country.
Nov 6

Google to open research center in Bucharest
Google plans to open a research center in Bucharest, where it will recruit at least 50 employees, according to sources from the real estate market, local Ziarul Financiar reported. For its future research center, Google plans to rent 1,000 sqm of office space in the Unirii View tower in downtown Bucharest.
Nov 6

Serbia’s opposition protest at state TV studios, forcing president to use side door
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had to use a side entrance to access the state television building on Tuesday evening after around 200 angry opposition supporters blocked the main door in a protest over what they said was government control of the media.
Nov 6

International committee calls for pause on false political ads online
An international “grand committee” of lawmakers called on Thursday for a pause on online micro-targeted political ads with false or misleading information until the area is regulated.
Nov 7

United Group to buy Bulgaria’s Vivacom in $1.3 billion deal
Balkan telecoms and media company United Group, owned by private equity firm BC Partners, said on Thursday it had agreed to acquire Bulgaria’s leading telecoms operator Vivacom.
Nov 7

Ukrainian oligarch Akhmetov’s Ukraine Media Group launches Ukraine 24 TV channel
The channel will start its television broadcasting in December 2019 on the whole territory of Ukraine – via cable operator networks, on the Xtra TV satellite platform and Oll.tv OTT platform
Nov 8

Bosnian Salafist Preachers Calibrate Message to Growing Audience
Salafist preachers, or Da’is, are harnessing the power of social media to increase their influence in Bosnia, dialing down their rhetoric but still challenging fundamental rights.
Nov 8

Latvian Independent Television ceases independent operations
Fears about the future of the Latvian Independent Television (Latvijas Neatkarīgā Televīzija) news division came to fruition November 7 when All Media Baltics Communications Manager Alise Mališko announced that all of their products will be rebranded and unified under the TV3 brand.
Nov 8

Russia Seeks Extradition of Journalist From Latvia
Russia plans to ask Latvia to extradite Russian journalist Alexander Shvarev to face charges of slandering oligarch Alisher Usmanov, Interfax reported Friday. Authorities in April raided the Moscow offices of Russia’s Rosbalt news outlet, where Shvarev works, in connection with a defamation lawsuit brought by Usmanov. Shvarev is undergoing medical treatment in Riga, according to his lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov.
Nov 8

Technology in Romania: Fast Is Not Fair, According to New CMDS Report
Smartphones are now ever-present; the internet is used by more than two-thirds of the population, a significant increase from less than 40% in 2010 – according to a new report about technology, public sphere and journalism in Romania, released by CEU’s Center for Media, Data and Society (CMDS).
Nov 8

Estonia has the second freest internet in the world – Freedom House
According to the Freedom House 2019 Freedom on the Net index, Estonia has the second freest internet in the world – after Iceland.
Nov 9

This is how Fidesz reintroduced one-party rule over the media system in Hungary
On 17th December 2018 Hungarian Televisions armed guards forcibly removed two opposition MPs from the builiding, who were there to demand an independent and unbiased public service media, many years after the very same political party which championed to break down the communist one-party states mass media monopoly in 1989, turned the state-run Hungarian public media service provider into a blatant pro-government propaganda machine once again.
Nov 11

Fake attack on TV studio flags erosion of media freedom in Ukraine
Many viewers in Ukraine were taken in by what looked like an anti-terrorist forces swoop on a TV studio during a live show on Thursday (7 November). It now appears that journalists had staged the fake attack to flag the authorities’ pressure on their work.
Nov 12

Zelenskiy orders law regulating Ukraine’s media, causing uproar
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has ordered officials to swiftly draft a bill regulating media activity in Ukraine, in an effort to increase media accountability and prohibit Russian ownership and financing of news outlets.
Nov 13

DVB-T2 progresses in Croatia
Broadcasting of HD programmes using DVB-T2 HEVC has started throughout the whole of Croatia. According to the national transmission company OiV, it is being undertaken on the M2 multiplex and simulcasting will continue until the full transition to the standard is completed on July 1, 2020.
Nov 13

Fajon: Serbia has problems with democracy, media and rule of law
European Parliament official Tanja Fajon MEP told the latest issue of Diplomacy and Commerce magazine that she is completely devoted to Serbia’s accession to the European Union, but warned of problems with the level of democracy, freedom of the media and rule of law.
Nov 13

Digital advertisers in Russia will soon be able to advertise in TikTok
Russian digital advertiser Yandex has announced a partnership with TikTok. Advertisers using Yandex’s Direct ad placement platform will now be able to place ads in the popular video app.
Nov 13

Arrested for two tweets in Croatia
It is Gordan Duhaček’s job to write about corruption and government inaction. But when the journalist started to report on the looming environmental disaster in a national park in Croatia, the story hit a nerve.
Nov 14

Journalists Chief Victims of Digital Rights Violations in Serbia
Journalists, in particular investigative reporters, are the most frequent victims of digital rights violations in Serbia, according to a report on the “dark parts” of online life in the Balkan country issued by the watchdog SHARE.
Nov 14

Netflix to Amend ‘The Devil Next Door’ Documentary After Backlash
Netflix will amend elements of its documentary series “The Devil Next Door” after the Polish prime minister and others complained to CEO Reed Hastings about the show, which centers on the trial of John Demjanjuk who was accused of being a notorious Ukrainian concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.
Nov 14

Fake news invades social media before second round of presidential elections in Romania
A wave of fake news has invaded social media in Romania one week before the second round of the presidential elections. Calls to boycotting the elections and alarming announcements about new taxes for Romanians in the Diaspora and pension cuts decided by the new Government circulated on social networks on Friday, Digi24.ro reported.
Nov 15

Andrej Babis: At least 200,000 protest in Prague against Czech PM
At least 200,000 people attended a mass rally in Prague against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Organisers of the protest said more people attended than had previously done at a similar event in June, which had then been considered the largest of its kind since the fall of Communism in 1989.
Nov 16

Czech government approves digital tax aimed at internet giants
The Czech government approved a 7% digital tax proposal on Monday aimed at boosting state coffers by taxing advertising by global internet giants like Google and Facebook, the Finance Ministry said.
Nov 18

Serbia’s Vucic Leaves Hospital After Heart Problem ‘Caused’ By ‘Inappropriate’ Media Questions
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has checked out of a hospital where he had been admitted after experiencing heart problems, the public TV broadcaster reports. Vucic’s health was “stable” and he was “released home,” RTS reported on November 18.
Nov 18

How Russia weaponized social media, got caught and escaped consequences
This year, the report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III put it all in print: Russia used email leaks, propaganda and social media to stoke societal divisions and undermine the integrity of the election process in the United States.
Nov 18

How China Influences Media in Central and Eastern Europe
China has successfully planted its narratives on topics like the Hong Kong protests into major news outlets across Central and Eastern Europe.
Nov 19

Albanian PM publishes a map depicting Kosovo as part of Serbia
Albanian prime minister, Edi Rama, published on Tuesday in his social media accounts a map depicting Kosovo as part of Serbia, triggering reaction of Kosovo media and social media users.
Nov 19

United Media acquires remaining 49% of Serbia’s Grand Production
United Media, part of SEE-focused media and communications services provider United Group, has acquired the remaining 49% of Serbian record label and production company Grand Production from its co-founders, Aleksandar Popovic and pop folk singer Lepa Brena, local media reported.
Nov 19

Bulgaria plans to offer 5G frequencies by June
ulgaria plans to offer frequencies for 5G wireless networks by the middle of 2020, the head of the telecoms regulator said on Tuesday. Bulgaria’s telecoms regulator plans to open procedures to grant frequencies in the 700 MHz and 3,600 MHz bands in the second quarter of 2020, Ivan Dimitrov, head of the Communication Regulation Commission, told an industry forum.
Nov 19

Bosnian PM Appointed, Signalling End to Impasse
The tripartite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina appointed Bosnian Serb Zoran Tegeltija as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, effectively the country’s prime minister, on Monday after more than a year of wrangling between the three main nationalist parties, Bosnian media reported.
Nov 19

Is „Black Friday“ Protected Under The Bulgarian Trademark Legislation?
One of, if not the most popular event is approaching. This Friday. Or The Black Friday. But aside the question how much we need on stock, there’s one more concern for merchants – can they actually call their campaigns a Black Friday. And there’s a good reason for this concern.
Nov 20

Digi trials 5G in Hungary
Digi has carried out its first live 5G test in the Hungarian capital, Budapest. According to parent company Digi Communications, the first base station broadcasts on 20 MHz of its own spectrum, already held in the 3,400 MHz band, with Ericsson as the partner.
Nov 20

Latvia suspends Russian channels
The Latvian regulator NEPLP has suspended the broadcasting of nine Russian channels in the country. According to Latvian Public Broadcasting, it has done so not because of the channels’ content but rather their ownership.
Nov 21

Russian parliament backs law to label individuals foreign agents
Russia’s lower house of parliament passed legislation on Thursday that will allow individual journalists to be labeled foreign agents, a move that critics say will tighten curbs on the media.
Nov 21

Independent Journalism in Romania: On the Ropes
Romania’s media market seems vibrant and diverse, but in reality, the local environment hardly enables independent journalism to thrive. Independent journalism survives thanks to a string of small online outlets that are struggling financially and grappling with a low level of trust and a public unwilling to pay for media content.
Nov 21

Background: Fall in Independence of Czech Media May Impact Slovenia Too
A Czech oligarch set to become the biggest player on Slovenian TV screens is facing criticism in his home country. Czech as well as European journalists point out the dangers associated with PPF’s political influence over the media in Central and Eastern Europe
Nov 22

Romania president Klaus Iohannis wins second term with huge victory over socialist Dancila
Romania’s centre-right President Klaus Iohannis won a second term early Monday, crushing his socialist challenger in a presidential election runoff with a pledge to resume judicial reforms slowed down by successive Social Democrat (PSD) governments.
Nov 24

PPF Group, United Media target Telekom Romania
The Czech Republic’s PPF Group and BC Partners-owned United Media have held discussions in Bucharest on acquiring Telekom Romania. According to Profit.ro, the talks have involved ambassadors from Germany, Greece and the US.
Nov 25

Estonia gives up the idea of banning Russian TV channels
Estonia is not planning to ban broadcasting of Russian television channels with regards to EU sanctions against Yuri Kovalchuk stated the Adviser of Communications and Media Services Department of Technical Regulatory Authority, Peeter Sookruus.
Nov 25

Latvia bans nine Russian-language TV channels
Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), the country’s media regulator, has banned nine Russian language channels due to ongoing EU sanctions against one of their co-owners, Yury Kovalchuk, the Latvian press has reported.
Nov 25

A Russian troll farm may not have been very good at its job
A major Russian disinformation effort may not have been very effective, according to a new study that is one of the first to investigate whether these campaigns actually changed people’s minds.
Nov 25

That Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It
Internet trolls don’t troll. Not the professionals at least. Professional trolls don’t go on social media to antagonize liberals or belittle conservatives. They are not narrow minded, drunk or angry. They don’t lack basic English language skills. They certainly aren’t “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds,” as the president once put it. Your stereotypical trolls do exist on social media, but the amateurs aren’t a threat to Western democracy.
Nov 25

Ukraine’s new parliament: What social media users think about it
To see how Ukrainians perceive the work of the new government, Internews Ukraine and UkraineWorld experts analysed data on the three main social media websites in Ukraine: Facebook, Instagram and VK. Our research covered the first two weeks of the new Rada in the period from 29 August to 15 September 2019.
Nov 25

Poland’s State of the Media
Asked about the difference between Poland’s public television station, TVP, before 2015 and after, a veteran journalist who works at the network was quick to respond. „Ruling politians” they said, „had never had that kind of impact on television” before.
Nov 25

The Kremlin wants to nationalize Russia’s private tech firms
The internet, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared in 2014, is a „CIA project”. Russia’s biggest tech firm, Yandex? It was „developed with Western influence”. Yet nearly six years after Putin vowed to „fight for [Russia’s] interests” in the internet sphere, Yandex appears to have dodged yet another attempt by the Kremlin to bring it under state control.
Nov 26

Quad play and IPTV grow in Slovenia
The market share of quad play packages has grown steadily in Slovenia since their launch and stood at 40.5% at the end of the second quarter. Standalone broadband claimed a 9.1% share and converged service that do not include service packages 5.6%. Meanwhile, IPTV was the most used technology for receiving pay-TV services, with its share increasing to 55.3% in Q2.
Nov 26

Hungary pulls out of Eurovision amid rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric
Hungary will not participate in next year’s Eurovision song contest, amid speculation the decision was taken because the competition is “too gay” for the taste of the country’s far-right government and public media bosses.
Nov 27

Latvian Ministry of Culture proposes ad restrictions and possible “digital tax”
The Ministry of Culture released information on November 26 that it is considering several courses of action in response to Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’ (New Unity) request for a vision and concrete proposals for strengthening the integrity of the Latvian information space.
Nov 27

Serbian Magazine Scraps Cover That ‘Targeted’ President
A front cover picture on a Serbian current affairs magazine – showing a gun directed at the Serbian President – will not be shown in this week’s print edition after it drew sharp criticism, the owner of NIN, Ringier Axel Springer, has announced.
Nov 28

Apple slammed by Ukraine for marking Crimea as part of Russia
CNN reporters in Russia on Thursday confirmed that Apple’s (AAPL) map app lists cities in Crimea, such as Sevastopol, as being in Russia. Apple Maps also shows a border between the rest of Ukraine and Crimea — and no border at the Kerch Strait, between Russia and Crimea.
Nov 28

Hungary : RSF decries anti-Semitic attacks against two Hungarian website reporters
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Hungarian government to publicly condemn the anti-Semitic posters attacking two journalists with Index , one of Hungary’s few independent news websites, that were plastered on walls all over Budapest on 23 and 24 November.
Nov 29

Politics and Poison: How Croatian Media Reported Bosnian Croats’ Trials
On the anniversary of a Bosnian Croat general’s courtroom suicide, BIRN analyses how Croatian media presented a partisan picture of verdicts convicting officials from the wartime Croat-led Herzeg-Bosnia statelet and its Croatian Defence Council force.
Nov 29

Sputnik has to leave Tallinn office space due to sanctions
Sanctions against the Kremlin propaganda channel Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) are forcing the Russian state-controlled media portal Sputnik organization to move out of its rental space in Tallinn as Estonian banks do not accept Sputnik salary payments.
Nov 29

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