‘Can media help to save democracy’ was the topic under discussion at the South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF) in Sofia last week.
The annual event looked at the media business today in the context of fake news, populism, budget constraints and the digital revolution.
The Forum was attended by around 100 media professionals, academics, politicians and representatives of civil society. It was opened by Lilyana Pavlova, Minister for the Bulgarian (BG) Presidency of the EU Council in 2018.
Participants shared their concerns about the deterioration of press freedom in South East Europe and discussed the current challenges for media ranging from political pressure to economic crisis, new media, audience fragmentation, media ownership and challenging working conditions for journalists.
EBU Head of Member Relations for Eastern Europe Radka Betcheva spoke about how to secure media freedom and ensure EU members and candidates were complying with common standards.
She spoke about the importance of bringing together media organisations and stakeholders, along with the international community, to resist political and economic pressures on the media.
She said: “It is essential that we improve the legal framework in which the media operates to ensure transparency of ownership and protect the effective functioning of public service media.”
“We also need European-wide policies that will help promote media freedom.”