SUPPORT PROGRAMME FOR INDEPENDENT
MEDIA IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAV AREA IN 2001
the year 2000 changes on political level happened in most of the countries in
the former Yugoslav area, finally providing the preconditions for economic
development, social recovery and political stability. The elections in Croatia
and Serbia, but also in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosov@, broke the almost absolute
dominance of hard nationalist parties and gave way to a more moderate leadership.
political changes also ended the worst direct oppression and threats towards
independent journalism and media and opened the road towards professionalism
also in the state controlled media scene. The
new governments have all committed themselves under the Stability Pact to build
a framework to ensure free and democratic media. We see today an unprecedented
opportunity and obligation to help these countries to resolve structural
problems of the media in line with their international and constitutional
commitments. The establishment of a transparent and democratic controlled legal
framework for the operation of all media, the transformation of former state
controlled media, the construction of a public broadcast sector in the
electronic media, the redefinition of the role private media play under new
circumstances and many more tasks are awaiting the local political and media
bodies. This process of transition needs substantial professional, political and
material support and backing also by the international community.
a strategy for the media field to be applied in support of a sustainable change
in these countries, we suggest to walk on the two legs of media transformation:
the political changes last year, journalists are less often exposed to threats
of violence. Political pressure, however, has not diminished and the recently
elected leaders are all too often using their predecessors’ methods to
influence public opinion. For too many new political leaders the problem was not
the political manipulation of media in general, but just the fact that the wrong
party exercised this control. Real professional independence of media is also
for the new leadership often more seen as a danger to their rule then a
democratic obligation of the country.
democratic progress cannot be provided by any government, however well
intentioned it may be. Development of a strong and autonomous media sector,
including public-service and private broadcasters, is the only way to ensure
accountability of those in power. To keep the process of the last year going, to
see democratisation proceeding, to see a real change of system and not only the
replacement of political leadership, the political backing of the media
transformation and direct investment into social awareness and political
participation of the citizens stay crucial for at least five more years.
private media – not as an alternative to the transformation of state media,
but as an needed partner for pluralism – are important for the process of
the present and foreseeable economic conditions, few if any independent media
will survive without assistance. There is a real danger of the local state
structures and the international support focussing after the changes in
government only on the transformation of state media, as the independent private
media - having proven during the last ten years their professional independence
– keep an independent stance also towards the new elected leadership, often so
being seen by them as too critical, too negative, too independent. If the gains
in media pluralism and professionalism, achieved in recent years with
international support, are not to be lost during the transition of state
broadcasters to public service networks, then continued funding for independent
media of proven quality and influence will be essential. The international
community would be misled by the temptation to follow the intention of the local
political leadership to marginalise media out of their control, as very soon we
might face new media manipulation and propaganda by these new leaders for their
own sake and interest – against the interests of the citizens, of democracy
and stability and against the interests of the international community. For a
real process of transformation, not just changing the faces, but the very
backbone of the system itself, we see an active support on both levels needed.
Only walking on the two legs, these countries will overcome the ten years of
economic, social and political destruction and develop towards real stability
Media scene, key problem and priority needs of media organisations vary from country to county or region in the area of the former Yugoslavia. As media make an integral part of a society, a political and social framework, as well as a level of economic development and key specific political and social problems, inevitably form a ground for major problems media face with in a process of their development. However, there are some problems and needs in the field of media support, which are common for the entire area. As such we would define the following:
All media in the area are faced with quite serious infrastructure
problems. Many of them have very poor and outdated equipment, which
seriously reduces technical quality as well as capacity of their production.
Besides, they also lack technical facilities which would enable their efficient networking.
Accordingly, equipment and other infrastructure upgrade is top
need for many media in the area. Also broader usage of new media
technologies is very much needed.
All countries and regions of the ex-Yugoslav area are characterised by inadequate
legal framework in media field. None of existing information codes and
regulations on allocation of licences and frequencies for broadcasters fulfil
democratic standards. Also regulation defined by some other laws, but which is
indirectly connected to media issues (e.g. obligation of state bodies to make
their work transparent to public) is still quite undemocratic and restrictive.
All this enables mechanisms of various pressures still be pretty strong and thus
creating of a legal framework which will enable existing and development
of really free media is an outmost need.
All countries in the region lack market-economy conditions
developed to a level which would enable self-sustainability of media. The
expectation is that this would be changed in years to come. Adapting to
market-economy conditions represents a very painful process and the biggest
challenge for all media in the area. According to expert analyses, building up organisational
and business structures, as well as a well-thought marketing
strategies which will provide self-sustainability, will need a period of
4-6 years. Many media will not manage and will be forced either to fully
commercialise or to seize their operation.
Level of professional standards in media
coverage very much differs among media in the area:
a few media practice a really high-quality journalism, some are on a decent
level of professionalism, while the majority does not fulfil even basic
professional norms. Private independent media with serious coverage (i.e. not
commercial and entertaining) have comparatively higher professional level than
state media. Variety of education and training courses are still a
big need, especially in fields of investigative journalism and economy
Public broadcast system (PBS) does not exist.
Lack of political will is the main reason in Croatia and to a grater extent in
Montenegro. It is, together with serious lack of knowledge and public awareness
about the issue, the reason in Macedonia. On the other hand, in
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosov@ (both actually protectorates), lack of strategy on
behalf of the international community is the main responsible. Serbia is on the
way to joint Croatia and Montenegro. Process of transformation of formally named
PBS into real ones is an extremely complex task and will take many years ahead.
For the beginning, before starting pumping enormous sums of money, detailed
assessment of problems to be solved (sufficient staff, huge depths, lack
of business planning and management, extremely low professional level, etc.)
should be done, strategies for solving the issue (building up of
PBS is a part of long-term process of building of democratic institutions in one
society), and the most suitable concepts of PBS need to be
6. Pretty high level of fragmentation of media space is still present. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosov@ and Macedonia the fragmentation goes along ethnic differences, with existing separated media sub-scenes addressing solely their respective ethnic audiences. Besides, inter-state relations in the region are burdened by unsolved consequences of the wars, which keeps the region divided on all levels. However, in order to provide their audiences better informing and to facilitate processes of regional integration, independent media need, and some of them already do so, to establish and develop a cross-border exchange and co-operation.
we address the issue of support to independent media in the former Yugoslav area as follows:
to media in the former Yugoslav area is aimed at achieving the following:
In order to achieve the aforementioned aims, we recommend the following strategic guidelines:
We propose to support 50 projects (a few consisting of several sub-projects) throughout the region: 2 in Croatia; 4 in Bosnia Herzegovina; 7 in Montenegro; 8 in Kosov@; 21 in Serbia (14 in central Serbia, 4 in Vojvodina and 1 in Sandzak) and 8 in Macedonia. They include 141 different media organisations, while realisation of some of them would fulfil some of basic needs of all independent media in their respective countries. All in all, with approval of this support, Switzerland would give a substantial support to further development of the entire media scene in the region.
share of support would be allocated to media in FR Yugoslavia (68.3%), as it
actually includes three countries/areas – Serbia, Montenegro and Kosov@ - each
needing specific support. Besides, Serbia alone takes a significant portion
(46.3%), as it really does have much more developed and diversified independent
media scene than any other country in the region.
Ex-Jugoslawien was founded in the end of 1992 as a Swiss non-governmental and
non-profit organisation, with the aim to support the independent media and
freedom of press in the area of the former Yugoslavia. Since 1993 Medienhilfe
Ex-Jugoslawien has established permanent contacts and co-operation with a number
of independent media organisations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia,
Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia. Totally 46 different media organisations have
been supported, among them 4 network projects composed of a number of particular
media or infrastructure projects used by more media.
Medienhilfe Ex-Jugoslawien has been the implementing organisation of the Swiss Government, i.e. of two departments within the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs: 1. Political Division IIIb, Section for Global Peace Policy and 2. Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Besides, Medienhilfe Ex-Jugoslawien started in 2000 to operated as the implementing organisation of other governments (Irish Government). We also receive support from Swiss cantons and towns, private foundations, companies, media houses and journalist associations, bigger NGOs, church organisations, and a number of individuals.
our activities include the following:
Support to independent media organisations
in the area of the former Yugoslavia, which includes:
material support; accompanied by a close follow-up reporting and evaluation of
all supported projects;
political support (e.g. in cases of attacks and pressures);
partnerships with Swiss media.
Research and analytical work,
analyses of media issues in the region as well as a position and a role of media
in a broader social context;
on specific issues related media (e.g. media role in social integration,
conflict de-escalation and transformation, and peace-building);
analyses of alternative sector (NGOs), strategy papers and counselling (for
Swiss NGOs operative in the area of the former Yugoslavia).
Activities related to Swiss public and policy- makers,
of a bulleting (quarterly), which is sent to Swiss NGOs; journalists, media and
journalist associations; politicians and individuals interested to be regularly
informed on issues related to media situation in the area of the former
website with a variety of information in regard to media in the region;
special meetings with prominent media and NGO representatives from the area and
representatives of the Swiss state bodies;
public events with media and NGO representatives from the area of the former
Swiss media (placing articles from journalists from the ex-Yugoslav area;
publishing own articles or through interviews).
Our criteria to
choose local partners
are as follows:
Media who are
not owned or controlled by a state or para-state structures;
editorial policy is not controlled or influenced by any political party;
coverage complies with professional criteria and journalist ethics;
Media who have
engaged against nationalism and have promoted dialogue, understanding and
peaceful cohabitation of people with different ethnic and religious background;
Media who have
been promoting civil society and democratisation processes;
attention is given to cross-border and network media projects.
Ex-Jugoslawien is a member of a closer group of donors who have permanent
co-ordination of support activities. This group form: Open Society
Institute (offices in Brussels and Budapest, as well as national offices in the
area of the former Yugoslavia), Swedish Helsinki Committee, Press Now, Norwegian
People’s Aid, IREX ProMedia and Media Development Loan Fund.
Ex-Jugoslawien was in 2000 a member of the pool of implementing organisations
for realisation of the quick support package for independent media in Serbia
initiated by the Stability Pact. We will continue and strengthen
this activity in 2001.
Ex-Jugoslawien is member of the expert team currently working on a
strategy and policy papers for the EC support programme for independent media in
the SEE in the next 6 years. The team includes representatives of NGOs,
governments (e.g. USA and Denmark), private foundation (OSI), Stability Pact and
The strategy elaborated in this paper is complementary to those to be implemented by international players we have co-operation with, which may additionally contribute to strengthening of the position of Switzerland (DEZA/AZO) within the international donors community. Each particular project proposed for support has carefully been evaluated, both in single assessment missions and donors joint project-travels and co-ordination meetings. Each of them will be supported by some or all of above specifically named donors.
Medienhilfe Ex-Jugoslawien has in-depth analysies of problems in regard to
transformations into PBS in respective countries, which can be provided if
Bearing in mind that DEZA/AZO approved a substantial support to education
and training projects of SEENPM, only one project of a kind, which is
complementary to but not included in already supported project, is proposed
within this programme
P.O. Box, CH-8031