Monday, July 19, 2010

Serbia and WAZ Media

WAZ Media Group is Germany's third largest publisher. It started with the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, but is now a big media group that makes 40% of its sales and 70% of its profits abroad. It is specially well represented in the Balkans. In Bulgaria and Macedonia it controls 70% of the newspaper market. A de facto monopoly position.

The company has been criticized for using dubious means to achieve such large representation. It is also accused of lowering editorial standards and interfering with editorial policy to push certain political views. From the initial belief that Western control would have a "civilizing" influence in the Balkans little is left. Now many tend to believe that the net effect of WAZ's dominance has been negative.

At the moment a struggle is going in Serbia with WAZ at its core. What exactly is going on is not clear to me. WAZ controls Politika and according to now German-Foreign-Policyit wanted to take over Vecernje Novosti - giving it the two largest newspapers in Serbia - but was a denied so by the government. Now WAZ says that it wants to leave Serbia. Most probably it will sell its shares to some other German company like Springer.

It looks like it made losses due to falling circulation in a time of economic crisis and wanted to solve that by acquiring a monopoly position and when that didn't work out it pulled the plug. Another version is that the compnay is leaving because the Serbian press had linked it to underworld figures. Economy minister Dinkic called WAZ for its shady deals "not a good investor".

According to B92:According to still unofficial information, Germany's WAZ has announced it would withdraw from Serbia because it is dissatisfied with it financial losses, public slander that had linked them with the underground and with the inefficiency of the domestic institutions and corruption.

Unofficially, however, Tanjug reports, the company does not intend to fully drop its ownership in Serbia but only that of the daily Politika in order to be able to take full control of the Večernje Novosti daily.

1 comment:

navy said...

In Macedonia where WAZ - the criminal Bodo Hombach (corruption motor), has a monopoly, the conditions are fake numbers with the system so that the display, customers must pay higher fees. His friend and partner Stanja Subotic is wanted by Interpol. Closely associated with the search Interpol Super Drug Boss: Darko Saric. In Albania, he tried to turn Mezo Baze shady dealings with the Albanian Mafia. Romania just a disaster with criminals, etc.