Alignment to European Standards in the Media Sector of South East European Countries

© UNESCO/ Daniça Bijeljac

Relevance

The targeted countries are, at different levels, on their path to democratization. They need precise and coherent regulations in their media laws without any interference from political authorities or other strong interests. Most of them have launched a media reform process and have made substantial efforts in developing a framework for independent media although the level of media reform and general legislation varies from country to country.

After supporting media initiatives, training journalists and creating opportunities for networking, it is time to implement professional standards and increase the social respect journalists deserve as agents of the public interest. Therefore, self-regulation and media accountability are given prevalence under this project.

Action and effectiveness

This project intends to encourage, assist and accelerate media reforms, consolidate European standards and bring about more media protection, professionalism and independence. It will focus on two main areas of interest:

  • Developing the self-regulation tools and mechanisms and increasing the awareness and the valorisation of self-regulation;
  • Speed up the approximation of the EU and international standards and best-practices in the field of media accountability, especially with regard to audiovisual services and media legislative frameworks.

It will produce a web-based reference on media accountability systems and self-regulation and link the self-regulatory bodies in the region to facilitate the exchange of information, partnerships and integration.  

It will promote newsroom-based accountability mechanisms (such as a newsroom’s ombudsman). Furthermore, UNESCO will develop supporting documentation, assist 18 newsrooms to experiment self-regulatory mechanisms, and will produce a “how-to” guide for the newsrooms interested to build their own accountability systems.  

The program will also facilitate the organization of two international thematic brainstorming meetings to bring together the stakeholders most relevant for establishing self-regulatory mechanisms: Media professionals, journalists’ associations and trade unions, media owners and publishers, media regulatory bodies, policy makers, and legislators.

© UNESCO/ Soler-Roca, M.

The target groups are:

The countries concerned are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Turkey, Serbia and Kosovo. All media professionals will be educated as media communities and outlets, self-regulatory bodies, institutes and centres, regionals or internationals.

Main project activities

1. Connecting the local press councils with the self-regulation process at the European level;

2. Establishing a reference for media accountability systems/self-regulation and a virtual network of interested professionals in the region;

3 Evaluation of the progress to the date, dissemination of lessons learned and assessment of further needs on media accountability and self-regulation;

4. Promoting alternative, newsroom-based forms of accountability or self-regulation and creating a reference document;

5. Contribute to strengthening the environment for the development and amending the national legislation (especially the ones of broadcasting and audiovisual services) in line with international standards.

The added value of this project is to build on, and to consolidate, the expertise in the countries and in the region, as well as to put the pre-existent initiatives at the national level in a regional context. It will produce reference documents media accountability and self-regulation, will emulate debates on the topic and will increase the interconnectivity among the main stakeholders, as well as the one among national, regional and European actors.

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