The Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) has called for a quick investigation into the takeover of Prva and O2 TV stations by the Kopernikus Corporation which was formally co-owned by Srdjan Milovanovic, the brother of a Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) official.
Kopernikus sold its cable provider branch to the state-owned Telekom Serbia last month for a price of almost 200 million euro which experts believe is much higher than the company’s real value.
The NUNS and certain NGOs have warned that this is a case in which media freedom and pluralism are being undermined but Culture and Information Minister Vladan Vukosavljevic says that “as far as he knows, the purchase of Prva and O2 was done in line with the law”.
Kopernikus Corporation owner, Srdjan Milovanovic could soon become the top Serbian media mogul owning two TV stations with national frequencies, three web portals, a radio station and nine cable TV channels. He sold his Kopernikus Technology to the Telekom and then bought Antena Group’s media empire in Serbia for almost the same price in the space of just one month.
“This is intriguing and deserves a quick reaction by state bodies,” NUNS official Dragan Janjic said. The only quick reaction came for the Serbian President who appeared on the pro-government TV Pink morning show a day after the purchase of the two TV stations was confirmed.
Aleksandar Vucic has denied that he made an agreement with Srdjan Milovanovic (the former owner of Kopernikus Technology which was recently acquired by state-owned Telekom Serbia) despite information that the two have known each other for quite some time and made deals when Vucic was still in opposition, back in 2012.
Prior to the 2012 election, a marketing agency close to the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) bought 8 hours of airtime at one of Kopernikus’ TV Channels to make their own news programme that was usually anchored by the SNS members like the journalist and an SNS member of parliament, Marija Obradovic.
Also, Srdjan Milovanovic’s brother, Zvezdan is an SNS representative in the town of Nis.
“No state president should discuss this topic in such a way and it would be a good move if the relevant state institutions, including the prosecution office and ministries, would launch an investigation whether there was corruption involved in the takeover the TV stations (by Milovanovic),” says Maja Stojanovic from the Civil Initiative (Gradjanska Inicijativa).
Srdjan Milovanovic has refused to give a statement for N1 regarding the takeover.
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