Censorship and self-censorship take centre stage in a first of its kind conference taking place in Sarajevo, 13 – 14 October as the state of (independent) public service broadcasting, challenges to the legal environment and the economic constraints of media and employment conditions for members of the media in South Eastern Europe are explored in a conversation led by the OSCE.
“Politicians must understand that media are not their private property,” said the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović at the event.
“On the contrary, any democracy relies on media as a watchdog for governments and businesses,” said Mijatović.
Back in April 2011 the Friedrich Ebert Foundation – Regional Project South-East Europe commissioned the Institute of European Media Law to conduct a study not only to explore the market and legal conditions of the media sector in the countries concerned, but also identify suitable remedies that could be suggested in order to help improve, and overcome possible shortcomings in, the situation actually encountered.
In the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina for example Radenko Udovicic found that despite 11 daily newspapers and 20 periodic publications, “there is no law which directly regulates the operation of press media outlets. Newspapers are registered at cantonal and entity
level. The issue of journalistic professionalism and ethics is resolved through the Press Code of BiH, based on self-regulation,” says the report.
“This region has seen enough fragmentation and incitement to discord. The media play a leading role in promoting intercultural understanding and reconciliation in defending their own freedom,” the OSCE Representative sought to underline.
The OSCE Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media in cooperation with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina are the patrons of this “OSCE South East Europe Media Conference in Sarajevo”, held in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 13-14 October 2011.
Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Fletcher M. Burton, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH and Peter Sorensen, Head of EU Delegation/EUSR BiH gave openning remarks.
Journalists, academics and expats in South East Europe gathered to discuss challenges and ways forward hoping to contribute to raising awareness among decision makers and help identify possible solutions to the problems.
All details on the conference can be found here: oscebih.org/Page.aspx?pageid=8&lang=EN
A first conference, was ended with a first joint and signed declaration of all present, “On the Road to Media Freedom.”
Let’s revisit this with time to see if progress is made as further Blakan nations get green lighted for accession talks to the EU (see Montenegro, 12 October).
Also, interesting to watch will be Al Jazeera’s future influence in the region, after several hiccups, it opens its doors to offices in Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade on November 1, sources in Sarajevo have reported to Eurocentrique.
Alia Papageorgiou in Brussels