On 1st and 2nd February, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) had a series of meetings with members of the European Parliament to discuss the urgency of supporting public service media and independent journalism in the accession countries. The lack of financial independence, outdated technologies as well as increasing political control, not only in Hungary and Poland but in all accession countries affects the compatibility of public media outlets. Out of all Balkan countries only Serbia and Macedonia fully digitalised their production, although they still have most of their products in analogue format. The necessity of financial support even more urgent, as the money pressure might negatively affect the independence of the public broadcasters.
The EFJ and EBU urged MEPs on the importance of EU support for “Assistance to Public Service Media in the Western Balkans” now before they become irreversible. Unfortunately, confronted with way too many challenges and way too limited means, existing public service media -so essential for democracy -struggle to fulfill their transformation into a genuine service to the citizens and continue to weaken.
“Support for a much needed professionalisation of public service media will have a multiple effect”, said the EBU and EFJ.
In 2013-2014, the EBU had launched a successful media project in the Balkans, which provided public broadcasters with necessary training and assistance. The EBU, the EFJ and IFJ joined forces to apply for a new project call from DG Enlargement, but are still waiting for its publication.
MEP Ulrike Lunacek (Greens, Austria), MEP Tanja Fajon (S&D, Slovenia), MEP Eduard Kukan (EPP, Slovakia), MEP Cristian Preda (EPP, Romania), MEP Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, Germany) and Ivo Vajgl (ALDE, Slovenia) agreed on the crucial role that public broadcasters play during the time of constant disinformation, sensationalism and hate speech. They serve as an important platform that can provide public with credible, unbiased information.
After the meeting with Renate Schroeder from EFJ, Christel Gossens, Boris Bergant and Radka Batcheva from EBU, the Members of European Parliament decided to write the joint letter to Commissioner Hahn, responsible for enlargement to remind them of the importance of public media support in the Balkans.
Photo Credit: Diana Krovvidi, EFJ.