The publisher of the pro-government tabloid Kurir, Adria Media Group, has filed a lawsuit in the Commercial Court in Belgrade against publishers of independent portals Cenzolovka, Raskrikavanje, and Javni Servis, as well as against a publisher of daily Danas, and non-governmental organization Centar za Interkulturnu Komunikaciju and is asking damages of 11 million Dinars, or close to 100 000 Euros, claiming reputational damage.
The plaintiff has selected Commercial Court, which seldom hears cases against media on the basis that “the subject of this dispute is the determination of acts of unfair competition and damages in connection with it.”
In particular, the damages are sought from portal Cenzolovka for
republishing the article titled Research: Printed portion of hate in Belgarde’s tabloids, which was initially released on the portal of NUNS (IndependentAssociation of Serbian Journalists). This article is based on the one published by Raskrinkavanje as well as on the research published by NGO – Centar za Interkulturnu Komunikaciju, which focused on fake news and hate speech that appeared on the front covers of Kurir and other pro-government tabloids.
According to the lawsuit, the disputed article carries “several false, unverified and insulting information against Kurir.” The lawsuit also claims that it is “absolutely incorrect” that Kurir publishes false, unfounded, and propaganda-type of news.
Thus, Adria Media Group is asking 11 Million Dinars, claiming “damages to business reputation by actions of unfair competition.”
In response to this lawsuit, Slavko Curuvija Foundation, the publisher of Cenzolovka, reminds the public that according to the Serbian Press Council, Kurir is a leading publication in the number of violations of the Code of Code Journalists in 2020.In addition, from 2017 to 2019, Kurir was the media outlet with the highest number of lawsuits for violations of reputation and honor, hate speech, protection of minors, and other violations of the Law on Public Information and Media, according to an analysis conducted by this foundation together with the Center for Judicial Research.
Foundation believes that with this lawsuit, the tabloid Kurir has joined the trend of filing SLAPP lawsuits, similar to those recently filed against independent local media by the Millennium Team, a company with strong ties to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party.
“By acting this way, Kurir continues to exert pressure and intimidate journalists, editors, and media publishers. By doing so, they are endangering media freedoms and suppressing information that is of public interest,”saysSlavko Ćuruvija Foundation.
Together with its portal Cenzolovka, Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation will continue to uncompromisingly defend the freedom of expression law and the right of citizens to be accurately and objectively informed.
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