TV N1 victim of “cable war” between United Media and Telekom Srbija

January 31, 2020.

A clash between the two largest cable operators in Serbia, Telekom Srbija and United Media, has led to a large number of channels owned by United Media becoming inaccessible to tens of thousands of households.

Among the channels no longer available is cable news channel N1, which has programming that offers a picture of Serbia that differs markedly from the one presented to viewers by numerous pro-state media outlets. Due to its critical and objective information, this television channel, along with its journalists, is often the target of verbal assaults and condemnation from politicians of the ruling party.

Due to it having become inaccessible to a large number of citizens, TV N1 has launched the online campaign #DaSeVidiN1 [#ToBeSeenN1], calling on public figures and citizens to support the demand with a video message for this television channel to be viewable on all cable TV systems. Alongside a large number of videos and written messages, support for this cable news channel has also been expressed by the protest gathering of citizens in Belgrade, under the slogan “Against media darkness and pressures”.

In the meantime, the N1 website was targetted four times in just three days by a massive DDoS attack from abroad, which led to the site being inoperable for several hours each time.

In the background of the problem lies the conflict between United Media, owner of the SBB cable system, TV N1 and other cable channels, and operator Supernova, which is under the ownership of state-owned telecommunications company Telekom Srbija.

Supernova’s legal basis as an operator to broadcast channels owned by United Media expired on 31st December 2019, and the failure to renew this contract led to United Media banning the operator from broadcasting its channels further. After two weeks of a “war of press releases” and mutual accusations, United Media announced that it is ending negotiations with Telekom Srbija.