NEWS published on 12 Dec 2013

EBU builds bridges between minority broadcasters in Balkans

From left: Oskar Benedikt (Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia); Srđan Mihajlović, (RTV Director
General); Gordana Predic (State Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Republic of Serbia);H.E. Peter Burkhard,
(Ambassador, OSCE Mission to Serbia); Dusan Jakovljev (Vice President of the Assembly of the
Autonomous Provinceof Vojvodina, Republic of Serbia);Sasa Mirkovic (Assistant Minister of Culture,
Republic of Serbia) (Photo: EBU/Jana Janotova)

Journalists and editors serving national minorities in the Western Balkans held an EBU sponsored regional conference to exchange experiences and build bridges between the region’s public service broadcasters.

Representatives of the EBU’s Members in Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia met in Novi Sad, capital of the autonomous Serbian province of Vojvodina.

The conference was entitled "Public Service Media and Minorities" and was organised by the EBU’s Partnership Programme under an action plan co-sponsored by the European Union to strengthen PSM in EU accession countries. Fellow EBU Members from Hungary and Slovenia also attended to share their experience and practice of serving minorities.

Frans Jennekens of the Dutch public broadcaster NTR, chair of the EBU’s Intercultural and Diversity Group, gave a keynote speech, as did Professor Dubravka Valic of the Novi Sad School of Journalism. The event was also attended by governmental officials and representatives of the EU, the Council of Europe, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Sarajevo-based Regional Cooperation Council. The OSCE was a co-sponsor of the meeting, which was chaired by former EBU Vice-President Boris Bergant.

The conference was hosted by Radio Television of Vojvodina (RTV) which broadcasts in nine languages on both television and radio: Serbian, Hungarian, Croatian, Slovak, Rusyn, Ukrainian, Romany, Macedonian and German.

The meeting was in part a follow-up of a successful EBU conference in Pristina this April on Public Service Media and Roma Minorities. Concrete activities launched by that conference – including  establishment of a taskforce and an exchange of Roma programming through the Eurovision News Exchange for South East Europe (ERNO) – were reported in Vojvodina.

At the end of the Vojvodina meeting (11 to12 December), the participating broadcasters agreed the following conclusions.

  • Serving minorities is an integral part of the public service media remit, going far beyond the preservation of national traditions or folklore.
  • The public broadcasters of the EU accession countries, and of Hungary and Slovenia, are committed to producing programmes for minorities to the highest professional standards.
  • Professionalism can be improved by special training tailored for journalists working on minority programmes.
  • Minority programming should follow the same high standards of independence and objectivity as mainstream programmes.
  • Solidarity, cooperation and programme-sharing could enrich the output of each broadcaster’s minority programming, while alleviating threats posed by budget cuts.
  •  Mainstream programming should report on minority issues, and minority programming on issues of relevance to the country’s majority and other minority populations.
  • New digital technologies and social media open new possibilities for the spreading and sharing of minority programming.

A dossier of all the materials aired at the conference will be prepared and made available in the coming weeks. The conference participants decided to view themselves in future as a network for the exchange of experience and programmes on minority topics, possibly through ERNO.

Consideration will be given to establishing a “Bridge Builders’ Group” to coordinate network initiatives along the lines of the successful Roma Taskforce set up in April.

Mr Bergant said he hoped the networking made possible by the conference and its follow-ups would help to foster peace in a region long torn by ethnic strife.