ISSN 2330-717X

Changes In German WAZ Unlikely To Affect Balkans

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By Bojana Barlovac

Managing director Bodo Hombach is preparing to step down but this is unlikely to affect WAZ’s plan to withdraw from the Balkans.

Bodo Hombach, managing director of the WAZ Media Group, is leaving his post, Paul Binder, head of communications, confirmed to Balkan Insight.

Hombach, a former minister in Gerhard Schroder’s Social Democratic government who later headed the European Union-led Balkan Stability Pact, became managing director of WAZ in 2002.

According to the German website Taz, Hombach has already found a new job as president of BAPP, a centre for research and teaching practical politics that is part of the University of Bonn.

Binder did not disclose how forthcoming changes in the WAZ media group might affect Balkan media in which the company has shares.

In June 2010, Hombach announced that WAZ intended to withdraw from the Balkans. That year, WAZ sold off some of its main newpapers in Romania and Bulgaria.

WAZ’s withdrawal from Serbia and Macedonia is ongoing, Balkan Insight has learned from a source close to the company.

“At the moment, WAZ is negotiating with several partners from Serbia on the sale of its shares in Serbian media,” the source said.

WAZ has a 50-per-cent share in the daily newspaper Politika and a 55-per-cent share in the Novi Sad daily, Dnevnik.

Three Macedonian daily newspapers owned by Germany’s WAZ Media Group, Dnevnik, Utrinski Vesnik and Vest, are up for sale, though the potential buyers are yet unknown.

“Negotiations are ongoing but are not nearly finished,” MPM director Srgjan Kerim told Macedonia’s Alfa TV on Sunday.

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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