European Commission spokeswoman Ana Pisonero said on Thursday that the Commission regrets that Serbian citizens have less access to diverse media after the N1 channel was taken off state-controlled cable operators.
“The European Commission regrets that the situation has effectively led to a reduction in access to diverse media for Serbian citizens including N1. We, for sure, think that media pluralism should be increased rather than reduced and we hope that a resolution can be found through fair and balanced application of the rules,” she told a daily news briefing in Brussels.
Pisonero said that the Serbian Commission to Protect Competition should investigate whether any “anti-trust rules” were broken in the dispute between the state-owned Telekom Serbia and its subordinate cable operators and United Media.
“It‘s for the Serbian competition authoritiy to investigate whether there has been a violation of the Serbian anti-trust rules. These rules based on the EU competition acqui should be applied in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Stabliziation and Association Agreement between Serbia and the EU. In the context of the accession negotiations, the European Commission monitors closely developments, the way the rules are being applied in the country but also the impact that the situation has on the overall environment for freedom of expression and media pluralism. These two are key concerns fir the EU,” Pisonero said.
Cable operators controlled by Telekom Serbia under the umbrella brand Supernova shut off N1 and other United Media channels on January 18, 17 days after a contract for their distribution expired. The case got an openly political dimension when Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stepped in, claiming that N1’s #letN1BeSeen campaign had turned it into a political party.