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news 18 Jun 14

Serbian TV Nova Lays Off Entire Staff

The almost 100-strong workforce at Serbia's TV Nova have lost their jobs after the cable station said it had run out of money following its failure to get a national frequency.

Bojana Barlovac

Sixty full and 30 part-time staff at the Serbian cable TV station Nova have been informed that there is no money to pay their salaries after the station failed to obtain a national frequency. "I am about to start writing my CV," one soon-to be-former employee told BIRN.

Dejan Jocic, the director, called an urgent meeting with his employees on Tuesday to warn them that the company could no longer meet its financial obligations. "This means that none of us will be working any longer," one employee told BIRN.

Shattered staffers told BIRN that Jocic had blamed the company's plight on the failure to obtain a national frequency from the Serbian Broadcasting Agency, RRA.

Jocic reportedly said he had received guarantees of a national frequency from senior state officials before launching the station on cable in February.

However, the planned gaurantees had since fallen through.

Ownership structure

According to the Serbian business register, TV Nova is entirely owned by Nova.rs medija holding, which was founded in Belgrade in July.

The majority owner of the holding (85.1 per cent) is the Dutch company BD Media Invest, owned by New Amsterdam Cititrust, in which Dietel has 99 per cent share.

A minority stake (7.9 per cent) in Nova.rs medija holding is held by the production company Vision team, owned by Dragan Djurkovic from Belgrade, while GMG Media Group, owned by Germany's Ulrich Brock, has 7 per cent.

The station has continued operating on cable since February, awaiting the frequency. But now German investors had decided to give up, an employee said.

Jocic did not reply to BIRN's inquiries for an explanation of the company's problems.

Full-time staff received their salaries for May on June 13. Part-time workers expected to get paid on Monday - but instead got envelopes informing them that they were about to be laid off.

One employee told BIRN she was especially disappointed, as she and many of her colleagues had given up good positions in other national broadcasters.

"I was assured that this would become a respected TV station in future and now I am left on the street," the employee said.

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