EU funds to help Western Balkan broadcasters become financially stable

EU funds to help Western Balkan broadcasters become financially stable
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia November 2, 2017

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said it has secured funding from the European Union for the public broadcasters of the six Western Balkan countries, aiming to help them to implement crucial reforms and become financially independent.

Some of the broadcasters in the region are having severe financial problems and have been struggling to survive for years, which has restricted their access to international televised events. Bosnia & Herzegovina was not allowed to participate in this year’s Eurovision song contest due to public broadcaster BHRT’s outstanding debts to the union, while Macedonia risks losing its right to broadcast and participate in the 2018 Eurovision also due to accumulated debt.

“This project will deliver the urgent assistance they [the public broadcasters] need to undertake an audacious reform agenda and adapt to a rapidly changing media environment,” the EBU quoted its head of members relations and Eastern Europe Radka Betcheva as saying in a statement.

The beneficiaries of the project will be the broadcasters of Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The project aims to strengthen their independence, accountability and programming output by building synergies between them.

Public broadcasters will receive funding for reforms that should make them financially and institutionally autonomous and more accountable towards the public. They will also be stimulated to improve their editorial policies, complaints mechanisms and establish integrated newsrooms.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Austrian public broadcaster ORF, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Office of the Eurovision News Exchange for South-East Europe (ERNO) will work together with the EBU in the project.