Western Balkans

New EU Support to be Provided for the Challenges of Serbian Media During COVID-19 Pandemic

09/09/2020 - 16:32
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The European Union is providing grants worth EUR 2.4 million to help media to deal with the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic and to continue their work at times of significant difficulties and challenges ahead.

This support will be provided over a period of 36 months and will be managed by the European Endowment for Democracy (EED), active in the Western Balkans, including in Serbia, since 2018.

Considering EED’s already existing support to media in Serbia, this additional funding is targeted at a wide range of media actors, including young journalists, as well as more senior journalists and media outlet, including those using innovative tools and media content.

The funding will be available to:

  • Small, start-up and local-based media initiatives (including digital) based in Serbia;
  • Larger, professional media outlets based in Serbia who are facing particular challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Journalists, writers, and influencers, including bloggers and social media activists, based in Serbia.
  • Media related activities such as fact-checking, monitoring violence against media and journalists, legal support to journalists, and media monitoring implemented by organisations based in Serbia.

‘’Media all over the world have in the past years been struggling to face the new economic realities and technological transformation while delivering the key objective for independent and professional information. In Serbia the Media Strategy adopted by the government at the beginning of 2020 has identified a number of economic, social, institutional, legislative and safety challenges to be urgently addressed for strengthening an environment conducive to freedom of information. The outbreak of Covid 19, which has impacted almost every profession, has added difficulties to the media sector, especially at a local level. The EU has reacted quickly in supporting Serbia. EUR 93 milion were allocated to help Serbia overcome the difficulties, first through immediate medical and protective equipment support, including key supply of medical equipment and more recently medical doctors. As the emergency situation is slowly receding, we are now delivering short and medium term financial support, to help economy in Serbia face pandemic consequences. This support includes the media. We have decided to step up a new media support programme worth EUR 2.4 Million to be granted over the next 3 years, which is designed to support the media to get through difficult times” said Ambassador Sem Fabrizi, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia.

EED provides flexible support to media, and is demand-driven responding to needs on the ground. This additional EU funding to Serbian media will be provided according to the usual efficient decision-making mechanisms of EED, ensuring that grants of varying sizes and durations can be provided to those media who most need them.

”Pluralism of the media is critical to ensure that all voices can have equal opportunities to present their views. The media should not just be free, it should be ‘numerous’, so that citizens have a choice and can better understand and verify information. This is really important because the level of false news and misinformation is very high, not only in Serbia, but also in other countries. It is important to note that we are aware that the type of support we will provide with this media support grant will not meet all needs, especially in light of the economic situation due to the pandemic, and we will also use other sources of funding to provide further help to the media and civil society,” said Jerzy Pomianowski, Executive Director of European Endowment for Democracy.

In the last several months many media and journalists have faced additional financial challenges due to the pandemic.

”We are already in a difficult economic situation, and it is getting worse dramatically from year to year, and that has been made worse by the pandemic crisis, where professional journalists and the media have faced the biggest challenge in the last 20 years. The most important thing about this programme is to support the survival of the media, to enable them to remain at least at the existing level of quality they provide in the public interest. This support comes at the right time. The future of our community is uncertain and this is truly a last minute programme that can provide some help”, concluded Zoran Sekulic, Co-Presiding to the Press Council.

Media can apply for a grant via EED’s online application system at: https://www.democracyendowment.eu/en/apply-for-support-bhs.html. Applications can be made at any time.

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