Witch-hunt against United Group media companies

April 13, 2023

Top representatives of the Serbian government and pro-government media outlets have launched a witch-hunt against media companies owned by United Group – television companies N1 and Nova S, and daily newspapers Danas and Nova. This latest which-hunt was prompted by the imprisoning of Dragan J. Vučićević, owner and editor-in-chief of extremely pro-government tabloid newspaper Informer.

He headed to prison on 3rd April with great fanfare, claiming to be a victim, when in reality he was jailed because he didn’t want to pay the 200,000 dinars (approx. 1,700 euros) that the court obliged him to pay for defaming journalist Jugoslav Ćosić. He was released from prison after just two days, with his wife having paid the sun. This was followed by the airing on TV Pink – also a pro-government outlet – of a video by an unknown author calling for the arrests of journalists and editors of newspapers Danas and Nova, and television companies Nova S and N1, for criticising the current government and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.

These same media companies were also targeted after the portal Raskrivanje [Disclosure] published analysis showing that images of President Vučić appeared 851 times on the front pages of five tabloids last year alone. The Serbian president responded by claiming that he’d appeared on the front pages of Danas and Nova on multiple occasions times and that their “middle name is lie”.

Also speaking out on the issue was Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, who announced that she would prove the president’s claim that he had appeared more times on the front pages of newspapers owned by United Media, which she spent the next few days attempting to do and, allegedly, succeeded on proving the claim.

United Media called on judicial institutions and investigative bodies to respond urgently, given that government representatives were “openly calling for the persecution of free media and turning our journalists into targets, jeopardising their safety”.