In our opinion, Jugoslav Ćosić and the N1 television, which he manages, deserve the title of the champion of fake news for 2020. This was confirmed again by the latest example when Ćosić, speaking about the work of N1, manipulated facts and grossly misled the public.
In his answer to questions of Kurir, which we published in our article two days ago, concerning our research about the attacks of N1 on Telekom Serbia, he stated the following: “Based on the analysis of your reports and articles about Telekom Serbia, it is striking that this company was not even once presented in the positive context. Why is that so?”. He also said that “facts and experts speak” about this company, which is not true.
Negative campaign of N1 against Telekom
– According to experts’ assessment, Telekom Serbia, in a non-transparent process of operation, without the knowledge of its shareholders, significantly reduced the company’s capital. This is not the assessment of N1. The negative picture about the operation of Telekom Serbia is not created by N1, but by the results and facts which speak for themselves and which cannot be hidden – stated Ćosić.
The fact is that, however, this Ćosić’s claim is not true, as the programme of the N1 TV about Telekom broadcast a report where the only interlocutor was, in the role of a guest of his colleagues, a journalist of N1. A few days ago, in the programme of this television, within the show “Dan uživo“, Vojislav Stevanović, an economic editor on N1, was the guest. In the course of ten minutes, with the assistance of the journalist, he analysed in-depth the operation of Telekom.
Based on this example as well, it is evident that through its platform, N1 is continuously implementing the strategy of its owner – the United Group – in terms of promoting the negative media campaign against Telekom, which, as we have already written, is becoming their increasing threat in the market. In doing so, N1 uses selective data and facts which are exclusively in favour of their owners, to the detriment of Telekom Serbia.
This is what the “analysis” of editor Stevanović looked like – he is engaged obviously in the absence of analysts who, despite the achieved good results, are prepared to lambaste Telekom. Although not an expert in value assessments – as seen in his approach, Stevanović did not refrain from presenting on N1 methodologically ungrounded and provisional claims about the value of Telekom. It seems Stevanović does not understand the difference that the minority stake is traded on the stock exchange, while he is trying to assess the value of entire Telekom with control, that Telekom is not a public-utility enterprise and that it is not financed from the budget. Why he deducts the previous one-off investments from profit is something we will never know, just like we will never know what such valuation would look like if applied to his employer – the United Group.
It is unprofessional to report in the owner’s interest
This is not the first time that Ćosić and N1 are manipulating facts and spreading fake news. This happened several months ago as well, when they reported in a biased and one-sided way about the dispute between Telekom and the United Group, within which N1 operates. It was then claimed on N1 that this channel is forbidden in the offer of Telekom’s cable operators, which proved to be untrue. For the sake of reminder, the United Group cut off the signal of N1 for Telekom’s operators and then, in January, while talks on the continuation of cooperation were ongoing, it refused a more than correct offer of the state company to be enabled, while the negotiations were ongoing, to broadcast N1 free-of-charge, for as many as 800,000 users. The media outlets of the United Groups were doggedly politically shaping this purely market competition and were spreading the fake news that the N1 television is forbidden.
An attempt at strawman argument
N1, as part of the United Group, violates the ethical rules of the journalistic profession, of which it is accusing Kurir and Telekom
On Thursday evening, just before Kurir was completed, the United Group, the owner of the N1 television, send to our newsroom the request to publish the answers to the questions we had sent to them, which on that day were published in our newspaper, with slight abbreviation, exclusively for technical and professional reasons.
While fully complying with journalistic standards, parts of responses were shortened, which, in the editors’ opinion, did not concern the questions and did not change the essence of the attitude of the United Group. In addition, they accused us, invoking ethical rules of the journalistic profession, of violating the provisions of the Code of Journalists, which prescribe that economic and political interests of the publisher, concretely the business relations between Telekom and Kurir, must not influence the editorial policy in a way that would lead to untrue, biased, incomplete and untimely informing of the public, and that by shortening their answers we stayed silent on important facts. However, immediately after sending this request to us, the United Group published the press release in which they accused us, without grounds, that we censured all facts about the successful work of the United Group and that we consciously distorted facts. In its press release, this company also published the parts of the answers which were omitted – they were reported by the media outlets owned by the United Group, the N1 television and others. It is interesting that in its press release two days ago, the United Group put forward the attitude which represents the essence of the tendentious campaign of N1, this being that Telekom’s value has declined, whereby it confirmed that the attitude of N1 is its attitude as well, and it is therefore highly questionable whether the owners in this media outlet deal with editorial policy. The United Group did not mention that the stated provisions of the Code of Journalists should also refer to the media in its ownership, which remained silent on all claims from the article of Kurir to which the press release refers, whereby it was they who, unambiguously, violated the ethical rules of the journalistic profession.
For the owner’s interest
They did not say a single word about the economic and business interests of the owner of the media and the media outlets in their ownership, which do the very same things they are accusing us of. Such manner of reporting of the media outlets which they own poses the question whether they work in the interest of their owner and whether the United Group has double standards when it accuses Kurir of working in the interest of one of its business partners, Telekom, while not allowing that the reporting of the N1 television be brought into question; N1 obviously works in the interest of its owner, tendentiously accusing its direct competitors.
Kurir / Photo: Dragana Udovičić