Between personal gain and public interest: are the media also to blame for the crisis?
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When the government began to implement campaigns and advertise them, most of the private media in Macedonia entered the race to grab a larger share of the pie. Experts say that not only advertisements but also tenders buy media support.
This situation in the Macedonian media market has raised several questions and dilemmas: Have the media become a cover for the business? Can a medium as a private property take into account only their income, although performing a public activity? Are private media obliged to keep account of the public interest?
By signing the Przino Agreement, which undertook reforms in the media, another key question has opened: are the media to blame for the political crisis by not having adhered to journalistic standards and ethics in their work?
BUSINESS AND MEDIA – WINNING COMBINATION
Overall, behind the media are companies or individuals who initially have business interests. The synergy between business and the media often means winning combination.
According to “Forbes“, businessman Minco Jordanov is the richest person in Macedonia. He owns several companies in various areas, most of them in the steel sector. According to Wikipedia, he is the owner of the daily newspaper “Nova Makedonija” and “Kapital”.
Along with Ljupco Zikov, one of the owners of “Kapital”, through the company “Kamburis and Barba”, are members of the Alliance for Positive Macedonia. University professor Vlado Buckovski is also a member of this political organization, and at the time when he was prime minister he worked with Jordanov and hired him as a deputy prime minister.
However the seat of the company “Repro One Limited”, which indirectly owns the daily newspaper “Nova Makedonija” leads to the British Virgin Islands, where it is registered. This company has been registered in the local institutions since October 25, 1999, while in Macedonia it is the founder of the company registered in Skopje under the name “New Print Ltd”, which is the owner of “Nik Nova Print Ltd”, the publisher of the newspaper “Nova Makedonija”.
The company with the same identification number as “Repro One Limited”, registered in the British Virgin Islands, but with a similar name “Repro One Limited Inc. Tortola” occurs as one of the owners and the weekly “Kapital” through a company in Skopje registered as “Kapital Media Group Ltd”.
According to the Central Depository, the company “Repro One Limited” is a shareholder in several companies. So this company has 97,23% stake in the Company for design, manufacture and installation of steel structures and equipment and services Import-Export Fakom Inc., then it owns 76,49% stake in the mines and steel works “Institute” Joint Stock Company Skopje, and 80.96% stake in mines and steel works KPOR Inc. for personnel, legal and other unspecified business services, and it owns 22.21% stake in the construction company “Beton” Skopje, winner of several tenders within the project “Skopje 2014”.
According to the Central Depository, until January 1, 2009 “Repro One Limited” occurred as a shareholder in “Makstil” with 19,38 percent, a company associated with businessman Minco Jordanov, where he is a non-executive member of the Board of Directors. “Minyork Overseas Inc.” has been a shareholder in “Makstil” since 2009, while in the latest status two companies can be seen as shareholders: Duferco SKOP Investment Limited and Duferco SKOP LTD.
According to Wikipedia, since 1992 Jordanov has been engaged in “Duferco” SA from Lugano.
PARTIES AND TELEVISION
For many years Sitel TV has been overshadowed by Ljubisav Ivanov Zingo, one of the MPs with longest parliamentary experience in the recent history of Macedonia. In 2012 when Broadcasting Law finally became operational, he resigned from the parliamentary office due to non-compliance with Article 11 of this law that barred public officials or members of their families to own a media.
Ivanov has been the leader of the Socialist Party of Macedonia since 1996 and partner of the ruling party VMRO-DPMNE within the government coalition of multiple parties. On the website of the party it is stated that Zingo has been the founder and general manager of the company “Sileks” for more than 30 years, within which several mines, factories and various companies in many areas work. “Sitel”, as stated on the site, is part of the conglomerate.
Longtime editor of Sitel TV is Dragan Pavlovic-Latas, who for some time was the chief editor of the daily “Vecer”. He was replaced by Ivona Talevska, who was previously a deputy editor at TV Sitel.
Talevska withdrew from the screens while working in TV “Sitel” after the outbreak of the scandal that allegedly her mother’s company “Vizaris” received a tender of one million by the Ministry of Health.
The opposition pointed Latas allegedly appearing in some of the recordings released by the opposition, where, according to the allegations, Latas, along with the ex-secret police chief Saso Mijalkov, is discussing the arrest of the leader of United for Macedonia, Ljube Boskovski.
Emil Stojmenov, son of the prominent businessman and politician Boris Stojmenov in the public is still related to ownership in TV “Kanal 5”. Officially he is no longer in the company’s documents, as was the situation in late 2012. Now, instead of him, is the name of Vanja Gavrilovski, director of the printing house “11 October” , for whom the media have written to be Stojmenov’s close friend.
According to documents released by Mediapedia and the portal NOVA TV in 1999, while Borislav Stoimenov was a finance minister, his son Marjan, his daughter-in-law and Vanja Gavrilovski opened a joint venture in the offshore destination Panama in Central America. “Mediapedia” reported that after taking over Kanal 5 Gavrilovski left the post of the director of the printing house “11 October”, but remained in the bodies of the company as a member of the board of directors. Together with him a member of the board is certain Jelica Psaltirova. “Mediapedia” reveals that Psaltirova is a director of the company “Economic Bureau” owned by Marjan Stoimenov and she has continuously been working in the family companies of the Stojmenov family since 1996.
Although on the market in the past there were three new televisions – TV Nova, TV 21 and TV Shenja – TV Nova, which is owned by the businessman Sead Kocan, kicked up a dust. He is known to the public for his company “Transmet”, winner of numerous tenders for construction work. Only in 2015 Kocan’s company “Transmet” signed construction contracts with state companies in the amount of 3.2 million Euros.
According to the available documents of the Central Registry, Kocan occurs as owner in two other construction companies.
Transmet Company is one of the top 10 of the 100 with the highest number of won tenders in the last five years, according to a research by the Center for Civil Communications.
In the public Kocan is linked with one of the conversations of the opposition’s political bombs where apparently “Seat Ibiza” is mentioned.
BUSINESSMEN IN THE MEDIA
Robert Dimitrov, founder of the first cable operator in Macedonia, better known as Robbie, is known as the owner of the TV station TV 24 News. However, his name is not in the documents of the ownership structure of the television. The television, according to the current state, is established with foreign capital, and the owner is “Cable 24 LLC” Linz from Austria.
In 2014 he was six months in prison because in 2012 he attacked the son of the owner of “Niko Petrol”.
Last year Dimitrov announced closing his café in Stip, “Angels Café” because, as he said, they were “tired of inspections”.
In public TV 24 News is balanced in reporting.
Ferik Velija inherited the company “Veve Group” from his father Vebi, who died in May 2009. This company, along with Mira Meksi, writer from Albania, and the US Company “International Energy Petroleum & Engineering Consulting” established the TV “Alsat-M”, the first private television in Albanian with national coverage. With the latest changes, co-owner of the television is no longer the American company and the name of Meksi. Currently Velija is the sole owner of the television, part as an individual and part via the legal entity “Veve Group”.
The “VeVe Group” website states that the company was founded in 1990 and is a regional consulting and business group in the field of energy, infrastructure, environment, socio-economic development and structural funds for Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo. Media coverage and public relations is an additional service.
The longtime head of the oil giant “Makpetrol”, Andreja Josifovski found himself in the heat of the public last year when the Ministry of Interior announced criminal charges against him and twenty other persons, who according to the police were charged with illegal overflow of capital from Makpetrol in Oilko, a company owned by Makpetrol. In the public there were speculations that it was an attempt to silence TV “Telma” owned by Makpetrol. Since then the public has not heard about the outcome of the charges.
Unlike four years ago when an authorized person of television was Risto Lazarov, now it is the longtime journalist Atanas Kirovski. There were different comments about Kirovski’s entry in the television – that it is an attempt to control the media, on the other hand that the television would now have a more critical approach.
Kirovski is a member of the Copyright Association with representatives of other national broadcasters.
(The story was is supported within the NED project “Raising Awareness about Corruption through Investigative Reporting”)