Journalists throughout the former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe have launched a campaign to defend public broadcasting in the region. They warn of a developing crisis created by political interference, incompetent reform strategies and a collapse of public confidence.
Over 60 journalists and media professionals from 16 countries, meeting in Budapest on February 15-17th, demanded the creation of transparent and quality systems of public service broadcasting in every country of the region.
This event, including representatives from the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the EU, has been organised by the IFJ in the framework of a global Public Broadcasting for All Campaign. "If ever there was a time when we need to strengthen the core values of public service broadcasting it is today" said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, during the opening session. "People must be able to receive information, they must be able to make sense of it in the context of their lives, and that information must reflect the diversity of the cultural and political society in which they live."
Several experts such as Karol Jakubowicz (on behalf of the Council of Europe), Boris Bergant, (EBU Vice-President), Toby Mendel (Article XIX) and Chris Riley (Office of the High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina) discussed with journalists and media workers about the actions to undertake in the region.
The campaign focuses on :
the independence, plurality of views and variety of programming in public broadcasting protected from political interference;
a secured financial standing of public broadcasting;
the guarantee of structures for the independent management of public broadcasting and editorial independence of journalists and programme makers.
The conclusions adopted by the participants state that "public service obligations in media are essential to freedom of expression and opinion" and actions to take are listed in the document for the implementation and the defence of public service values in the media of the region. Participants of the conference have also developed strategies suited to national needs.