Serbia’s state Telekom Euronews TV channel launched in pre-election year

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Almost two years after the announcement, Euronews Serbia TV channel, owned by the state Telekom company, was launched via its digital platform on Monday.

The TV, wholly owned by Telekom Serbia, is expected to start with its programmes by the end of the month, with, as it is said, „editorial policy under the auspices of the Euronews based in France,“ the Raskrinkavanje (Unmasking) website reported.

Euronews Serbia said its signal was launched via Pay-TV platforms as „the last phase before the start of own programme.“

The Euronews director Michael Peters said the ambition of its programme in Serbia was to be „in the middle.“

„We want to be the place where all politicians and other public figures are welcomed to express their views, and we are here to respect them,“ he said.

The new TV channel launching ceremony was attended by Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic, Culture Minister Maja Gojkovic and the Telekom Serbia CEO Vladimir Lucic.

Brnabic said the Euronews Serbia was an ideal opportunity to present the country to other European countries and that the new TV would offer „more media pluralism, the respect of the highest professional standards, objectivity and impartiality.“

Euronews Serbia gathered several experienced journalists and anchors from N1, B92 TVs, and state RTS.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and his media advisor Suzana Vasiljevic announced the new TV channel in 2019. They said a part of the programme would be created by the Euronews from France, also in charge of choosing editors and the editorial board. It would take care of independence and impartiality, they said.

According to them, the programme would include original contents for the local audience, and on the other hand, the European viewers would see the local franchise’s products.

Euronews, founded in 1993, is headquartered in France, covering topics from around Europe. It says it has 150 million viewers a month, 11 newsrooms worldwide and programmes in 12 languages.

Though seated in France, its majority owner is Egyptian businessman Naguib Onsi Sawiris’ Media Globe company.

The company comes to Serbia as the state Telekom partner, and the new TV channel is their joint venture.

Telekom founded Euronews DOO through its daughter company HD-Win (renamed Arena Channels Group in 2020) to bring the TV to Serbia, the website recalled.

Before the launch, in 2019 and 2020, the company operated with a total of some 370,000 Euro loss according to the financial reports, it added.

The reports also show that Telekom has invested some 880,000 Euro in money and two cars worth 31,000 Euro into the company.

The new channel’s arrival hasn’t come without controversies, the Raskrinkavanje website recalled.

In February, the Danas daily wrote it was ‘interesting’ that the TV was launched in the pre-election year ahead of the presidential, Belgarde and possible early general vote due in 2022.

The paper said that another channel, TV Tanjug, owned by Zeljko Joksimovic, a singer, should be launched soon, while the pro-regime Pink TV information channel TV News started its programme in February.

Slobodan Georgijev, the Newsmax Adria channel director, has tweeted that Euronews Serbia operates illegally since local laws ban the state (Telekom is the state-owned company) from owning media.

The Raskrinkavanje website says the Euronews Serbia will compete with Newsmax Adria and N1 and Nova S TVs available on the United Media platforms.