BIRN to Hold Debate on Online Media Regulation in the Western Balkans

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As part of the regional ‘Media for All’ project, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network will hold a virtual midday debate on September 23 to discuss online media regulation and self-regulation in the Western Balkans.

Photo: Austin Distel / Unsplash

As concerns grow in the region over fake news, disinformation and propaganda – particularly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic – some governments are pushing forward legislative initiatives to regulate online media outlets’ content through administrative bodies.  At the same time, journalists, editors, media stakeholders and civil society organisations have strengthened their efforts to raise the bar of online journalism through improved ethical guidelines and self-regulatory bodies.

BIRN will host a star group of experts from across the region, to discuss the way government and the civil society sector are responding to these new asymmetrical threats to professional journalism in cyberspace and the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on media freedom in the region.

The debate “Online Media Regulation: Between the Legal Gap and Government Pressure”, moderated by BIRN Albania editor Besar Likmeta, will discuss the pitfalls government and administrative bodies come up against in trying to regulate online media ethics and the efforts made to self-regulate by Balkan media and civil society, as a response to state oversight and the threat of censorship.

The debate will also focus on the impact that restrictions, imposed by these countries’ governments to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, are having on media, the freedom of expression and right to information.

How are online outlets and the industry coping amidst a shortfall of advertising revenue? Is government aid necessary for the media’s survival, or a threat to its independence?

Experts from six Balkan countries will take part in this discussion:

  • Mirce Adamcevski, Chairman of the Complaints Commission of the Ethics Council (NM)
  • Zlatan Music, OSCE BiH, Programme Officer, Media Freedom at OSCE
  • Ranko Vujovic, President of the Council of the Agency for Electronic Media (MNE), as well as Executive Secretary of the Media Self-regulatory Council
  • Koloreto Cukali, Head of the Albania Media Council
  • Paula Petricevic, Ombudswoman of Daily and Portal Vijesti (MNE)
  • Agron Bajrami, Board member of Kosovo Press Council

To join our first debate within a series of discussions on online media regulation in the Western Balkans region, connect with us on the platform ZOOM on Wednesday, September 23, at noon CET.

Save the date and register HERE.