The EBU and its partners are celebrating the conclusion of an EU-funded project that has helped transform the work of public service broadcasters in the Western Balkans.
The four-year ‘Technical Assistance to Public Service Media in the Western Balkans project’ aimed to reinforce European standards and promote best practice for broadcasters in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.
It focused on key challenges for our Members, helping them to achieve financial autonomy from the state and provide greater accountability to the public.
The project was led by the International Federation of Journalists with consortium partners including the EBU, the European Federation of Journalists, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, the Eurovision News Exchange for South East Europe ERNO and our Austrian Member ORF.
Key achievements of the project include:
The EBU was responsible for leading on governance, funding, management reforms and audience research.
EBU Director General Noel Curran said:
“The EBU team has worked tirelessly to ensure the successful implementation of this project. We are grateful for the collaboration with the European Commission, Consortium partners and key stakeholders from all the six beneficiaries.
“Public service media organizations are facing many challenges but the recent humanitarian crisis and the war in Europe have served to demonstrate the indispensable role they play in our society and in our democracy. That’s why we need to continue to support the development and transformation of public service broadcasters into trusted, professional, and credible media and build on the achievements of the project.”
The project received two tranches of funding from the European Commission that enabled broadcasters to also face the challenges of operating in the COVID-19 era.
Radka Betcheva, Head of Member Relations Central & Eastern Europe said:
“This project was extremely comprehensive covering many different areas and engaging with many different stakeholders. We have worked together with parliaments, the civil sector, regulatory authorities and our Members.
“Transforming public service media into a genuine service to citizens is a long process which cannot be fulfilled overnight, especially in young democracies. We must persevere and continue with our support to build robust financial and governance systems that safeguard the institutional and editorial independence of public service media throughout the region.”
European Commission Programme Manager, Victor Dragutan, from DG NEAR said: “Public service media plays a considerable role in the media ecosystem in the region.
“Independent public broadcasters that are able to fulfill their public service remit are key to ensuring freedom of the media and freedom of expression as well as the proper functioning of democracy at large – which is fundamental for the European integration process of the Western Balkans. The reform of public service broadcasting remains thus crucial for democracy and overall development in Western Balkan societies, making it an important area of interest for EU support.
“The EU remains committed to help and encourage its partners in the Western Balkans to address the challenges of building professional and independent media. The EU also closely monitors progress in this field, and will continue to offer financial and technical assistance, provided there is the necessary will to reform.”