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International Assistance and Media Democratization in the Western Balkans: A Cross-National Comparison

Kristina Irion & Tarik Jusić | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: International media assistance programs accompanied the democratic media transition in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia with varying intensity. These countries untertook a range of media reforms to conform with accession requirements of the European Union (EU) and the standards of the Council of Europe, among others. This article explores the nexus between the democratic transformation of the media and international media assistance (IMA) as constrained by the local political conditions in the five countries of the Western Balkans. It aims to enhance the understanding of conditions and factors that influence media institution building in the region and evaluates the role of international assistance programs and conditionality mechanisms herein.
The cross-national analysis concludes that the effects of IMA are highly constrained by the local context. A decade of IMA of varying intensity is not sufficient to construct media institutions when, in order to function properly, they have to outperform their local context. From today’s vantage point it becomes obvious, that in the short-term scaling-up IMA does not necessarily improve outcomes. The experiences in the region suggest that imported solutions have not been sufficiently cognitive of all aspects of local conditions and international strategies have tended to be rather schematic and have lacked strategic approaches to promote media policy stability, credible media reform and implementation. To a certain extent, the loss of IMA effectiveness is also self-inflicted.

Windows of Opportunity – The Transformation of State Media to Public Service Media in Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Moldova and Serbia

Jan Lublinski, Erik Albrecht, Petra Berner, Laura Schneider, Merjam Wakili & Jackie Wilson
| PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: The transformation of state media to public service media (PSM) is one of the most ambitious endeavors in the field of media development. Not many efforts to free the national media from government control have succeeded in the past decades. In this paper the comparatively promising cases of Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Moldova and Serbia are discussed. The PSM in these countries all have a new legal basis, including a public service remit and a relatively independent governing body in which civil society is represented. The services delivered to the public by these media are analyzed according to a number of societal functions which are assembled under two general headings: “creating a public sphere” and “supporting integration”. Based on this analysis, a differentiation between “PSM in initial transformation” and “PSM in advanced transformation” is suggested. In all cases studied, different actors successfully used windows of opportunity: general political agendas to reform the media, a specific engagement from the management as well as support from the population and civil society. Media development actors here helped to advance the processes of change in different ways. Recommendations for future media development include strategic planning, inclusion of local actors, the pooling of legal expertise as well as structured processes of organizational development and capacity building.

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