RTL Group eyes Serbia's TV Avala

From Branislav Pekic in Rome

Germany's RTL is eyeing the possiblity of entering the Serbian TV market and is currently in negotiations with TV Avala, one of the holders of a national TV license.

Some local media reports have even gone as far as to claim that as of October 6, RTL has become the owner of TV Avala, although this has been denied by RTL Group's head of Corporate Communications, Oliver Herrgesell. Strangely, Wikipaedia on Monday published that TV Avala has become one of the 43 TV stations in Europe owned by RTL (with a 91% stake), but this information was taken off the site later the same day. Other reports claim that RTL will acquire a minority share for E45 million.

The RTL Group has known to be interested in TV Avala for at least the past year and a half, following its unsuccesful bid in 2006 for one of the five national TV frequencies in Serbia. At the time, CEO Gerhard Zeiler, said that the Serbian TV industry is likely to be profitable for the top three players.

The existing legislation in Serbia prohibits the sale of national TV licenses before previous approval by the country's Broadcasting Agency Council. Also, foreign companies can own a maximum of 49%. Currently, 48% of the capital of TV Avala is owned by Serbian businessman Danko Djunic, Belgrade-based firm Tehnoprogres has 32.28%, while marketing agency Medija Plus has 15.72%.

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