The main outcomes to be achieved are to establish European standards with regard to funding models, the election and functioning of governing bodies; to design editorial guidelines and long-term strategies including internal management reforms; to develop and implement action plans for setting up integrated newsrooms; to introduce mechanisms for co-producing programmes and news on selected topics (e.g. investigative journalism) as well as for the regional exchange of digitised archive materials.
European Commission – DG NEAR D.5
The project aims to revitalise the region’s public broadcasting sector and bring new confidence to the key stakeholders involved.
The project has three specific objectives: firstly, it aims to reestablish European standards and promote best practice at the six public service media organisations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, with a particular focus on helping them to achieve financial autonomy from the state and greater accountability to the public.
It works on seeking consensus on the principles and practice for sustainable funding models as well as on securing agreement on fair, transparent and accountable procedures for electing the members of governing bodies.
The project also works to generate synergies between the six broadcasters by initiating a new phase in ongoing reform processes and helping to formulate long-term strategies.
In addition, the programme is focused on the improved implementation of editorial policies and complaints mechanisms, which in some cases exist on paper only.
It will also support efforts to establish integrated newsrooms, to streamline newsgathering and production processes.
A further aspect to the project is work in the field of management reform, developing long-term strategies and mentoring their roll-out across multiple departments.
This will be complemented by an initiative to equip regulators with the skills to conduct or commission reliable surveys which will give programme-makers a better insight into audience needs.
The third objective of the technical assistance programme is to expand cooperation in programme-making between the six public service media organisations, ensuring that they can pool resources and share audiovisual materials in a more effective way.
The project goals will be achieved by building the capacity necessary to produce in-depth investigative reports as well as high-quality programming for children and young people.
The project also seeks to introduce new interactive formats which optimise the potential for audience engagement.
In addition to this, a regional platform will be created for sharing archive material between the broadcasters, enriching factual programming and encouraging further collaboration.
The training and mentoring programme led by BIRN addresses some of the shortcomings inherent in mainstream media across the Western Balkans – low levels of professional skills, an absence of continued mid-career training, and indirect or direct outside influence which prevents the broadcasting of stories which conflict with the interests of local power-brokers.
The primary target group are the six PSBs in the Western Balkans, and the secondary target groups are the ministries and parliamentary committees dealing with media policy, regulatory bodies, self-regulatory bodies and relevant NGOs dealing with the freedom of the media.
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
BIRN Hub, European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Austrian public broadcaster ORF, the Office of the Eurovision News Exchange for South-East Europe (ERNO), European Federation of Journalists.