The United Group said that Telekom Serbia as the re-seller of Radio TV Serbia (RTS) programmes should not discriminate viewers outside the country by imposing different prices.
“The Telekom prices policy takes away the right of people in the diaspora to see the public broadcaster’s programmes in future,” United Group said in a statement.
It added that the Telekom had “made differing assessments of people in the diaspora, asking 20 Euro cents for RTS programmes in some countries and up to 1.2 Euros in others and did not say what scale of measurement they used to determine the value of each subscriber”.
“The Telekom is deceiving the public by assuring users that their price of 1.2 Euros is appropriate and that United Group is earning 15 Euros per users. They are refusing to tell the only truth and that is that for 15.9 Euros, via NET TV, we allow viewers to watch 200 television channels and listen to 200 radio stations,” United Group said.
It said that “Telekom as re-seller abroad of RTS programmes which have already been paid for by the citizens and state of Serbia with 90 million Euros a year is discriminating viewers and leaving several hundred thousand people without the programmes of the national television”.
“The mission of public service broadcasters is to allow all citizens to watch programmes from their home country under equal conditions in order to preserve their language, culture and customs. Telekom had forgotten that mission when it requested 20 times higher monthly prices per user,” United Group said.
“The extent to which the Telekom prices policy is unfair towards the diaspora is shown by the fact that BBC WORLD charges just one Euro cent per user for its news programmes which means that the Telekom has decided to be 120 times more expensive than BBC WORLD when charging for the re-sales of the Serbian public service and wants prices 20 to 40 times higher than other public services,” the statement said.
“Attitudes towards viewers are evidently the most important thing to all public services in the region and Europe because they have already received donations from the state or the citizens through subscription and let us recall that the RTS is financed in both those ways. Because of that, Telekom’s bureaucratic explanations are completely groundless since we have already warned the public of the effects of cooperation between the RTS and Telekom,” United Group said.
The statement said that United Group has been “recording a constant rise in the number of its users thanks to a superior offer which includes the best news, film, series and sports programmes”.
United Group, which includes SBB, Telemach, United Media, Sport Klub, Nova TV and N1 TV, said it expects even more viewers in future since NOVA S has recently become stronger with the Utisak Nedelje (impression of the week) and Vece sa Ivanom Ivanovicem (An Evening with Invan Invanovic) talk shows.
The statement said United Group would “continue using legal means to fight discrimination against citizens living abroad because we feel that our obligation is to secure the national programme for all viewers in the diaspora under fair conditions since that programme is already paid for with the money of the citizens of Serbia”.
Telekom Serbia said on Monday that “the RTS did not decide to sell re-distribution rights for its programmes to Telekom but that Telekom won a public tender which SBB did not take part in, and the question is who does and who does not want to distribute the public broadcaster’s programmes”.
The Telekom said that the price of 1.2 Euros for the re-distribution of RTS programmes is market-based because the owners of the rights to channels with much fewer viewers charge similar or higher prices to distribute their programmes.