Media and investment experts told N1 on Friday that the decision to allow Telekom Serbia and Telenor to go ahead with their deal does not lead to a liberalization of the market and would not create equal conditions for all.
The Commission to Protect Competition decided earlier this week to conditionally approve the deal between the state-owned Telekom and private Telenor which, according to leaked Telekom internal documents, is aimed at destroying the SBB cable services provider along with the indedendent TV stations and portals N1 and Nova S, all owned by United Media. The deal includes a 15 year lease on optical cable infrastructure which is a public resource to Telekom for just 17 million Euro.
Milan Kovacevic, a foreign investments consultant, said that the decision does not bring a liberalization of the market because equal conditions were not offered to all operators. “Liberalization would mean the opposite with all market participants being allowed to cooperate among themselves under equal conditions which means that anyone who has something to offer would not make the offer to just one operator but to all. This is about certain cable, channels and if they are given to just one it is an act in opposition to the free market,” he said.
N1 Executive Producer Igor Bozic said that main problem is that the Commission did not base its decision on the content of the Telekom documents. “That basic idea under the Telekom plan could be implemented. In other words, a state agency has completely ignored what we found out and did not take that into consideration in its decision, at least that is not evident in the published decision and we can conclude that a state agency agrees with the intention of destroying some media,” he said.
Media expert Milos Stojkovic said that the whole thing could affect overall mobile phone services. “We should bear in mind that these are two important providers on the mobile phone services market and the question is how their land-line cooperation will affect mobile phone services and whether it will increase the inter-dependency of the two players and if that is the case, we can talk about the negative effects on free competition and raise the question of whether we see liberalization or not,” he said.
According to what N1 learned unofficially, the Telekom Serbia-Telenor deal was agreed at an online meeting of the Telekom Executive Board which was told several times that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban want the deal.
N1 is part of United Media which is part of United Group.