N1 has had access to a plan under which government-controlled Telekom Serbia will join forces with Czech tycoon Petr Kellner’s Telenor to reduce cable services provider SBB’s market share to less than 30 percent. The Telekom believes this will prevent the financing of media outlets such as N1 TV, Nova S and Sport Klub. The authorities swear by European values but are trying everything to prevent the existence of free media, this time by destroying a private company.
The plan to destroy the free media in Serbia was presented to the Telekom management after months of work drafting it, N1 has learned. The state-owned telecommunications company is planning to give Telenor the complete infrastructure of its cable network and the complete cable TV content.
They are making no secret of the fact that the state-owned company is planning to increase its income and increase its client numbers with the goal of finally destroying SBB, which is the main reason for the contract with Telekom, N1 has learned.
That essentially means that, based on European norms, Telekom Serbia is illegally associating with a private company to destroy another private company. Telekom is not hiding the fact that it wants to destroy SBB, reducing its market share to less than 30 percent to prevent it from investing in program content.
The destruction of SBB would allow Telekom to become the only provider capable of setting up new channels, earning income from both Telenor and its clients and planign to have complete control over Telenor’s clients.
Telekom keeps saying that SBB has already filed a complaint with the European Commission, saying that the government is pushing its company forward by creating a telecommunications and media monopoly. Telekom’s response is to offer its optical infrastructure to Telenor. That step by the Telekom, whose management board is mainly made up of members of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), means that it is ignoring basic market principles and protecting an association that is banned under all European standards. Telenor will have the right to use Telekom’s infrastructure into which almost 500 million Euros has been invested over the past few years.
The agreement between Telekom and Telenor has to be approved by the Commission for Protection of Competition. According to what N1 has learned, the documents have been handed to the Commission but have not been published on its website as per procedure. If the Commission just declares itself not competent to rule on the case, the cooperation between Petr Kellner’s private company and the state-owned Telekom could go ahead unobstructed.
SBB is part of the United Group which includes N1 TV.