Kauppalehti - Finland | 19/11/2014

Finnish broadcaster worsens media crisis

Several politicians have recently spoken out in favour of reducing VAT on online newspaper subscriptions. More important would be for the public broadcaster Yle to stop competing with private companies, the business paper Kauppalehti believes: "Generally speaking, cutting the tax by a few percentage points won't make such a difference. What's needed are structural changes. That applies above all to Yle. Why does it publish news texts on the Internet? Who needs them? ... The only advantage for the reader is that they're for free. For that reason they represent one of the main hurdles to the introduction of paid digital content. ... Even if the political tug of war over Yle goes on forever, the following might be possible: one could decide that the online portal should in future concentrate on broadcasting television and radio programmes that the commercial media don't produce." (19/11/2014)

Népszabadság - Hungary | 14/11/2014

Orbán's advertising tax has boomerang effect

Viktor Orbán's right-wing conservative government wants to further raise the tax on advertising revenues it introduced this summer. Worst hit by the measure will be private broadcaster RTL Klub. The left-liberal daily Népszabadság writes that the government is only harming itself by fuelling the ire of the already anti-government broadcaster: "The government is raising the stakes: stressing the need for a fair distribution of the public burden it now wants to impose a higher advertising tax. ... Its target is clearly RTL. ...The whole situation is reminiscent of a deadly poker game. But it also raises the question of just who will toss in the towel first, the government or RTL. The fact is that the popularity of the governing party Fidesz is waning, the anti-government demonstrations show no sign of abating, and RTL is becoming increasingly expert at showing the drawbacks of government's policies." (14/11/2014)

Duma - Bulgaria | 14/11/2014

Borisov wants to tame journalists

Just a few days after taking office Prime Minister Boyco Borisov's ruling party Gerb is planning to introduce a media law that foresees legal punishment for defamation by journalists and limited access for reporters to parliament so that they don't disturb MPs in their work. The oppositional daily Duma comments ironically: "Reporters and journalists are once again Gerb's favourite subject. The media sector is at the top of its agenda - as if everything else was going swimmingly. ... A few days ago Borisov allegedly told parliamentary reporters that they were starting to get on his nerves. 'Don't push my good will and pliability too far and don't lean too far out of the window,' he apparently told colleagues. At least he warned them. He's so generous." (14/11/2014)

Neatkarīgā - Latvia | 13/11/2014

CNN's cowardly withdrawal from Russia

The US news channel CNN announced on Tuesday that it will stop broadcasting in Russia at the end of the year. The broadcaster blames a new Russian media law that bans foreign investors from owning more than 20 percent of a medium broadcast in Russia. The national-conservative paper Neatkarīgā accuses the Western channel of cowardliness: "When it comes to bans on foreign TV channels and the revival of censorship Western democracy has its weaknesses. Bans on freedom of information and censorship are a rejection of democracy. If the West says: 'We will dispense with democracy' then our system is no better than that in China or Russia. The Western media need to take a close look in the mirror and condemn Russia's new media system, because it lacks all trace of democracy. The new media law only serves the advertising customers. ... CNN must not subordinate its interests to those of the political and financial clans in Russia." (13/11/2014)

Hotnews - Romania | 12/11/2014

Iohannis disappoints in Romanian TV debate

The two remaining candidates in Romania's presidential election faced each other in their first TV debate aired by the commercial channel Realitatea TV on Tuesday. The Romanian-German candidate Klaus Iohannis wasn't very convincing, the news portal Hotnews comments: "Why did Iohannis come to the debate so ill-prepared? Did he not realise that it was so important? Did he not have time to prepare? ... We don't know the answer, but the result is obvious. It is already being discussed on the social networks. A presidential candidate can't afford to display so many gaps in knowledge, and being well informed on the subject of corruption is a must - particularly when you're facing the leader of the Social Democrats [Victor Ponta] and you fall into his rhetorical traps. ... Oddly, Iohannis kept looking at the clock. He even reminded the presenter that the time for the TV debate was up. You got the impression that he was desperate for it to be over - not a good sign." (12/11/2014)

Novosti - Croatia | 09/11/2014

Supraregional channel promotes Yugo-nostalgia

At the start of November the regional news channel N1 started broadcasting from studios in Belgrade, Sarajevo and Zagreb. The weekly of the Serb minority Novosti finds it lamentable that Croat nationals now fear pro-Yugoslavian sentiment: "They are afraid that N1 is a reincarnation of the broadcaster Xutel [a pan-Yugoslavian TV channel founded in 1990 which ceased broadcasting as a result of the war in 1992]. But there's an antidote at hand: anyone can take the remote control and switch to a different channel. There is no monopoly of opinion nowadays. It's wonderful that N1 is broadcasting regional, cultural and documentary content. N1 broadcast the television series Shopping Mall in its first days, a TV hit by Belgrade-based director Igor Stoimenov and dedicated to Yugo-nostalgia. ... Back then it was broadcast by all the regional TV channels apart from Croatia's. Now this mistake has been corrected." (09/11/2014)

Ziare - Romania | 06/11/2014

TV duel a precondition for presidency

Romania's two presidential candidates are currently working out the details for a televised duel. While Sibiu's Mayor Klaus Iohannis wants a lively debate broadcast by all the country's TV channels, Prime Minister Victor Ponta is calling for four debates on different channels, two of which are considered loyal to him. For the news portal Ziare a duel is indispensable: "The tension is huge, and any mistake can be fatal for the candidates. That's why Ponta is avoiding direct confrontation with Iohannis [in a single duel]. ... The people will apply pressure, as will the television stations, who don't want to miss out on such an event. A small TV station can keep itself afloat financially for an entire year with the proceedings from such a duel. And it's clear: anyone who wants to be president of this country over the next years must have defeated his opponent in a TV duel. The coming days will decide whether we get one or not." (06/11/2014)

Wiener Zeitung - Austria | 05/11/2014

Give us the Internet tax!

After the failure of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's plans for an Internet tax journalist Werner Stanzl argues in the state-run daily Wiener Zeitung that in principle such a tax is a good idea: "A tax of around a euro per gigabyte would be a fair requirement in terms of competition. After all, consumers are forced to pay a contribution in the form of VAT on everything they buy, including newspapers and books. So why should such access to information and entertainment via the Internet be tax-free? It's a wonder publishers didn't start shrieking about being put at a disadvantage long ago. ... The taxation of bytes would certainly make things more exciting: How would the Internet consumer react to byte-intensive online advertisements? Would he click on those advertisements if he knew it cost money? And even more exciting: How would the advertising strategists react to this?" (05/11/2014)

La Repubblica - Italy | 04/11/2014

IS terrorism has driven away journalists

The terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) has apparently brought the Jahar gas field near Homs under its control again after months of fighting. The group published several photos in online networks, showing among other things the IS flag flying above the gas field. Such reports should be taken with a pinch of sale, Thomas L. Friedman writes in the left-liberal daily La Repubblica: "The Islamic State … has accompanied its brutal takeover of large swaths of Iraq and Syria with the kidnapping and beheading of journalists. Any Western journalists who would dare to venture into ISIS territory today would be risking their lives every second. ... What are we missing by not having reporters permanently present inside IS territory? A lot. ... ISIS is telling us what it wants us to know through Twitter and Facebook, and keeping from us anything it doesn't want us to know. So be wary of what anyone tells you about this war - good, bad or indifferent. Without independent reporting on the ground, we're in for some surprises. If you don't go, you don't know." (04/11/2014)

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