Croatian media regulator blocks sale of Nova TV

Croatia’s Electronic Media Council has ruled that there are no legal conditions for the purchase of 100 per cent of the shares of Croatian national broadcaster Nova TV by Slovenia Broadband.

In its ruling, the country’s media regulator said that this was due to the “inadmissibility of concentration” as foreseen in the Electronic Media Act, in the context of the protection of pluralism and the diversity of electronic media. In July, Central European Media Enterprises (CME) announced that it has agreed to sell its broadcasting operations in Croatia (Nova TV) and in Slovenia (POP TV) to Slovenia Broadband for €230 million.

Slovenia Broadband is a subsidiary of regional telecommunications and media group United Group, owned by KKR and EBRD, with operations in the former Yugoslavia countries.

At the time, CME pointed out that the transaction was subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and should be closed by end-2017. CME also said that it would use the proceeds from the sales to pay off longstanding debt.

In Croatia, the United Group is active in the production and broadcasting of several TV channels, including Orlando Klinci, Fight Channel, Adria News and DTH operator Totalna Televizija (Total TV).  According to the Electronic Media Council, Total TV, which is “indisputably linked to the applicant”, is a network operator for the distribution of fixed telephony, TV, voice and audio transmission services via electronic communications networks (excluding broadcasting services) as well as internet access services.

Accordingly, the company must adhere to the the provisions laid out in the Electronic Media Act, which state an operator transmitting TV and/or radio stations cannot at the same time be a TV and/or radio broadcaster and a media service provider.

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