Pro-Govt Serbian Tabloid Blasts New TV Station

The Serbian tabloid Informer on Monday accused the US of trying to subvert Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's likely future Prime Minister, by setting up a new regional TV station, N1.

On a front-page "exclusive", citing anonyous sources, the mass-circulation daily said that an "important part of the [US] campaign [in Serbia] is to establish an anti-Vucic television, N1, which would do the biggest job in decreasing Vucic's ratings".

The blast from the tabloid came as N1 was preparing to start programmes in May. The new TV station, which is the CNN's affiliate in the Balkans, plans to broadcast in three countries - Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia - expanding to other other Balkan countries in future.

The main financial investor behind N1 is United Group, the leading pay TV platform in Southeast Europe.

This includes SBB, the largest cable operator in Serbia, the largest cable operators in Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina - Telemach Slovenia and Telemach BiH - along with Total TV, the largest satellite platform in the region.

In October 2013, the global investment firm KKR, based in New York, acquired SBB/Telemach Group as its first direct investment in Southeast Europe.

According to Informer, the main figure in the alleged US campaign aimed at undermining Vucic's popularity is retired US General and former CIA chief, David Petraeus.

As of May 2013, Petraeus has worked with the KKR and is involved in the KKR investment process as chairman of the KKR Global Institute.

KKR did not respond to BIRN's question by the time of publication. BIRN has learnt from N1 that the station and its founders have decided to remain silent on the issue for now.

It is not unusual for former US generals and CIA directors...

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