Public Broadcasting in Eastern Europe : Conclusion of Budapest Conference


Public Broadcasting For All

A Campaign for Reform of Public Service Broadcasting

South East and Central Europe

Budapest February 15th-17th, 2002

Back to main page of the Conference


Journalists and media professionals from 16 countries meeting in Budapest on February 15-17th at the IFJ conference for journalists in South East and Central Europe: IFJ Regional Conference on Public Broadcasting, called for the creation of transparent and quality systems of public service broadcasting in every country of the region.

Public service obligations in media are essential to freedom of expression and opinion and we endorse the extensive policy statements of the Council of Europe, the European Union, the international professional organisations of journalists, including the IFJ's Zagreb Declaration, and other media professional groups on the need to defend and promote public service broadcasting.

In particular we stress that:

the independence, plurality of views and variety of programming in public broadcasting must be protected from political interference,

the financial standing of public broadcasting must be secured, and

structures for the independent management of public broadcasting and editorial independence of journalists and programme makers must be guaranteed.

In support of these objectives the Public Broadcasting for All Campaign should be developed in the countries of the region. This campaign should be broadly-based and include all sections of civil society especially representative journalists' organisations media professionals.

The following actions were proposed during the course of the meeting:

1) To work within each country in support of Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) suited to national needs. Any system of management of PSB must be politically independent, accountable and transparent and be consistent with the need for financial efficiency, editorial independence and the fulfillment of the PSB mandate

2) To insist that responsibilities of boards of management and Director Generals of PSB should be explicitly set out in the drafting of internal regulations. Director Generals and boards of management should be selected through a transparent appointments process on the basis of professional qualifications and only after the posts have been advertised publicly

3) To recognise the essential role that trade unions and professional associations play in defending PSB and to promote and create strong and independent trade unions of journalists and media staff. The staff of public service broadcasting organisations must be guaranteed, without discrimination, the right to work in line with the principles of the journalists' profession and to take part in trade union activities, including strikes and the right to trade union representation

4) To insist that all staff, including freelances, are given clear contracts of employment in line with national labour laws as a fundamental condition for the assertion of journalistic independence in the news room

5) To ensure that restructuring of PSB takes place in full consultation with the trade unions and professional associations, as appropriate, and in line with national labour laws

6) To support journalists, programme makers and others who take action to defend editorial independence and the principles of PSB

7) To consider taking court action at national and European level in countries where the laws and regulations undermine constitutional or legal obligations to provide PSB

8) To promote models of financing for PSB that suit local conditions, including a mix of sources, but that guarantee funding is a) secured, b) sufficient for needs, and c) protected from political interference

9) To assist journalists and programme makers in taking initiatives to establish editorial statutes and draft their own ethical guidelines with proposals for self-regulation. This should be required of both public and private broadcasters.

10) To promote and support the organisation of national debates on the role of public broadcasting and proposals for reform of PSB and to actively promote coalitions of groups at national level to fight for policies and actions in support of structures for PSB

11) To consider the creation of a special rapporteur on PSB either in the EU or in the Council of Europe with a monitoring capacity

In support of the above the IFJ should set out:

1) To publish a Campaign manifesto for PSB based upon the principles of the Zagreb Declaration of the IFJ and Council of Europe policies

2) To lobby for international support and engage with professional journalists organisations and media professionals (IFJ and EBU), intergovernmental organisations such as the European Union, Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Stability Pact, and international press freedom groups and human rights bodies

3) To establish a core group of experts drawn from different interested bodies - such as the IFJ, EBU or Article XIX - that will be able to intervene or carry out missions of inquiry at short notice whenever PSB is threatened or attacked

4) To insist that the Campaign and its objectives are properly recognised within existing policy initiatives, including the regional and national work of the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union

5) To campaign for the application of European and international standards of journalists rights and labour regulations, and to expose, where necessary, multinational media corporations that breach these standards.

6) To establish web-based tools, in appropriate local languages, for the national and European-wide campaign. This should include a database with Campaign information, examples of good practice and editorial statutes, and provide regional support for local actions in defence of PSB

The participants call on the IFJ to take up these points in the strategic development of the global campaign and to ensure the fullest possible engagement of groups representing all sections of civil society.

Participant countries were:

Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Finland, Great-Britain