With its yesterday's statement, this company misled the public and unambiguously manipulated facts and presented things out of context.
The United Group, within which several media outlets, including the N1 television, operate, continues to mislead the public! Yesterday, this company attacked Kurir completely groundlessly, in its statement published in the media it owns, believe it or not for a blackmail attempt.
By violating all professional and ethical standards, manipulating facts, presenting things out of context and without publishing our answer to their letter to the newsroom of Kurir, the United Group is spinning and misleading the public that Kurir is trying to blackmail it.
The truth, however, is entirely different – in this way, the United Group wishes to discredit Kurir and prevent us from continuing to write both about their unambiguous attacks on Telekom, which have been lasting for weeks, and about their operation. It is obvious that they are annoyed with the research in which we revealed why N1 is constantly negatively reporting about Telekom, which is the main market competitor of their owners.
Inconsistently and tendentiously
In the tendentious title “To publish the successes of the United Group, Kurir tried to blackmail”, the United Group and the group of media in its ownership are again violating all professional and ethical standards. They published only one sentence from the entire answer of our editor and tendentiously presented it as blackmail.
So, what is blackmail for the United Group? The fact that one media outlet reserves the right to respond, after unfounded criticism, to their misrepresentation of facts and the attempt at strawman argument.
Kurir has already explained that, within the article published on Thursday in which it reveals the background of the attacks of the N1 television on Telekom Serbia, it sent questions to the United Group concerning the facts we obtained in our research. The United Group answered these questions and Kurir, by using its legal and ethical right, left from their answers several sentences, which in no way represent direct answers to our questions and do not change the essence of their answer, but are, in our opinion, an attempt at spinning and advertising the purported successes of the United Group. This company sent to us the request to publish the entire answers, and immediately afterwards, without waiting for us to do so, they published their statement in which they accused us of presenting fallacies and “trying to improve the situation in Telekom Serbia, and of having the obligation to defend them even when they are destroying the company’s value”, as the United Group stated.
However, in its accusations the United Group is inconsistent and tendentious, and at the same time, through the group of its media outlets and its N1 television, it is doing the very thing that it accuses Kurir of and even more drastically. They are accusing us of violating ethical norms by removing a part of questions from their answer, while they are publishing their statements in which they accuse us of working in the interest of Telekom, without publishing a single word from our articles in which we reveal the background of their attacks. They are accusing us of being silent about important facts, while at the same time they did not publish the entire answer of our editor, but only a single sentence, which they manipulate and try to spin it so as to present it as blackmail. They are accusing us of working in the interest of Telekom, with which, as they say, we have a non-transparent business relationship which, purportedly, affects our reporting. They do not utter a single word about their (ab)use of their group of media outlets and the N1 television, which are in their ownership, for the sake of their economic and, it seems, political interest as well.
Abuse of media in ownership?
In its both statements, published on Thursday and Saturday, the United Group does not mention at all the facts we published in regard to what is hidden behind the dirty campaign of their N1 television against Telekom.
The N1 television, hypocritically and allegedly caring for the money of citizens – although Telekom operates in the market where, what a wonder, its greatest competitor is the United Group, and Telekom does not generate a single dinar of revenue from the budget – cares about Telekom’s profit being lower. They criticise Telekom that it reduced its profit by taking over cable operators, while at the same time they do not care about the huge loss of the United Group generated, what a wonder, because of the very acquisitions. They criticise Kurir for defending Telekom by revealing the background of the N1 attacks, as they say, but they do not mind that N1, by maliciously presenting the Telekom’s business results, is defending its owner – the United Group. Finally, by resorting to strawman argument and accusing us of purported blackmail, the question can be asked as to whether they are trying to do exactly that to ourselves. Namely, if the N1 television can explore the operation of Telekom, which in the past two years has seriously jeopardised, with its growth, the market share of the United Group, as Kurir revealed, why Kurir could not explore the operation the United Group. If N1 claims that Telekom is about to go bust, why should Kurir be prohibited from conducting a research refuting such claims. Is the truth such that the United Group and N1 wish a monopoly of the truth and the respect of ethical rules which they uphold, which, unlike Kurir, no one controls due to the nature of their registration, while Kurir is responsible both before domestic courts and the Press Council. Is the struggle for the dominant position of the United Group and the N1 television, under the purported care for citizens’ money, the essence of the tendentious, manipulative and malicious campaign against Telekom, which has successfully undermined this monopoly in the past two years.
What the United Group hides
Negative result and record indebtedness
For the sake of reminder, in its research Kurir revealed that by reporting on Telekom’s operation through selective data, N1 – for the sake of its owner, i.e. the United Group, is trying to weaken the state company which, in the past two years, has become a serious competitor to the United Group in the entire region, and is jeopardising it and hindering its further expansion in the market.
Kurir revealed that early this year the United Group reached record indebtedness of three billion euros, which is almost a three times higher debt than Telekom’s. We also revealed that Telekom’s profit in 2019 was 21 million euros net, while the United Group recorded a loss of 60 million euros in the same year.
We were, of course, not afraid, and we will continue to research the operation of the United Group, both in Serbia and the region, as this attack on Kurir leaves the impression that something else is being hidden as well.
Let readers see how the United Group manipulates
Is this an attempt at blackmail?
Kurir now publishes the entire answer of our editor to the United Group on their request to publish their answers in entirety. We leave to readers to assess whether it contains any elements of blackmail:
“The Kurir media outlet has an independent editorial policy, which means it is not influenced by the publisher, particularly not by third parties, as you insinuate. The topic of the article – the relationship between the two largest cable operators in the market of Serbia and the region – is indisputably interesting for the public. All information published in this article was verified with due journalistic attention, and when publishing your answers to the questions of the journalist of Kurir, nothing was left out or incompletely reported. Your answers were published without changing their essence and meaning. On the other hand, the editorial board had the freedom and authorisation to shorten your answers, i.e. not to publish their parts which do not give an answer to the clearly asked questions of Kurir, but, on the one hand, represent an attempt of advertising businesses successes of the United Group and, on the other hand, contain negative attitudes and claims at the expense of operation of government authorities and your competitor Telekom Serbia a.d. If you wanted such information to be published, you could do that in the form of, for instance, a press release, without abusing the right “of the other party to be heard”.
At the same time, we point out your own inconsistency, i.e. the inconsistency of the N1 television which you own, when you refer to journalistic ethics, whose respect you request for the sake of protecting your interests, while, on the other hand, N1 did not apply it when reporting on the operation of Kurir as it selectively and arbitrarily published parts of answers received from our newsroom (answers from emails of 11 February 2020 and 14 April 2020).
Given all the above, the editors of Kurir find no problem of publishing again your answers in their entirety, if you continue to insist on it, but they will certainly be the subject of journalistic criticism. Finally, we emphasise that your email was not signed. A legal person, even from the Netherlands, does not have the capacity of communication; this capacity is held only by responsible persons.
Kurir / Photo: Marina Lopičić