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News 18 Jan 13

New Macedonian Web TV Station Goes Live

The internet-based news portal NOVA TV gives a new platform to journalists from the pro-opposition A1 television station that was shut down in 2011.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The new online station was launched on Thursday after a series of closures or takeovers of leading critical or pro-opposition media outlets in the last couple of years.

NOVA TV’s founders, veteran A1 reporters Borjan Jovanovski and Biljana Sekulovska, will also be its editors in chief.

“We are aware, due to our limited resources, that this outlet will be positioned on the margins,” said Jovanovski.

“But if the margins are the place where the institutions think they should put the creative [people], than we will take this as a compliment,” he said.

NOVA TV will produce daily video feeds with news, analysis and interviews, as well as frequent panel discussions.

The station has also published parts of the old A1 video archive that survived the shutdown.

A1 went off screen in July 2011 after a court in Skopje pronounced it bankrupt following the arrest of its controversial owner, Velija Ramkovski, who was later jailed for financial crimes.

The downfall of A1 was largely attributed to political pressure by the government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. A1 claimed it was targeted for its pro-opposition views.

Gruevski and the ruling VMRO DPMNE party denied the claims.

NOVA TV is not the only attempt to revive the spirit of A1, which before closure was by far the country’s most-watched TV station.

Several other A1 veterans last year set up another news portal called A1on.

The European Commission, media watchdogs and civil rights groups have frequently voiced concern over what they usually describe as deteriorating media freedom in the country.

Following the closure of all of Ramkovski's media outlets, that also included three daily newspapers and A1's sister station A2, another large media group owned by Germany’s WAZ quit the country, leaving its prominent newspapers to Macedonian and Serbian businessmen with allegedly shady backgrounds.

The most recent example was the takeover of Alfa TV revealed by Balkan Insight last October. This critically-inclined outlet was bought by Serbia's CHS, a firm in turn wholly owned by Comtrade Holding, an offshore company based in the Dutch Antilles.

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