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IRIS 2009-1:Extra

Serbia

RTL to Enter the Serbian Market via Acquisition

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Miloš Živković

Belgrade University School of Law - Živković Samardžić Law offices

Following the final dismissal of the complaint lodged by RTL TV d.o.o., a member of the RTL Group, against the tender decision of the Serbian Broadcasting Agency (SBA), according to which RTL TV was denied a national coverage TV licence for Serbia (see IRIS 2008-8:17), the RTL Group decided to take an alternative route of entry to the Serbian TV market.

According to a statement given on 9 November 2008 by a member of the SBA Council, the SBA has allowed, in principle, the acquisition of a 49 % stake in the national coverage licence holder TV Avala by RTL TV.

This decision of the SBA provoked a lot of discussion among local media experts and stakeholders, mostly because the SBA, by denying RTL a national licence in the 2006 tender, has effectively forced RTL to spend, according to some information, around EUR 40 million to buy a stake in a company holding such a licence, whereas that money shall go to the current shareholders of TV Avala, and not to the state.

Moreover, some of the changes of the 2002 Broadcasting Act, by which the licence was separated from the programme offered at the tender, are claimed to appear in a different light.

It should be emphasised that none of the public criticism is aimed at RTL, which attempted, on several previous occasions, to enter the Serbian market in a fully regular and ordinary manner, rather criticism is directed at local players that forced RTL to enter the market in the way that it did, and resultantly increased the wealth of several local tycoons.

References
Press release EN
 http://merlin.obs.coe.int/redirect.php?id=11500