Greater media independence needed in South East Europe

Belgrade, 21 September 2012 – Safeguarding and promoting media freedom was the focus of the Second OSCE South East Europe Media Conference that finished in Belgrade today.

The two-day event was organized by the Office of the OSCE Media Freedom Representative and the OSCE Mission to Serbia.

Close to 200 delegates discussed key problems faced by media in the region: restrictive media laws and practices, business and corporate interests influencing media, as well as violence and the resulting fear.

“The media freedom situation in South East Europe is stagnating. There has been very little positive development since last year’s conference in Sarajevo. However, I am hopeful that by consolidating efforts of media and journalists’ unions and maintaining pressure on governments we can achieve progress soon,” said Mijatović in her closing remarks.

The Acting Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Paula Thiede, added: “The conference provides a forum to media professionals to discuss the obstacles to media reform in South East Europe and identify ways forward. On this basis, countries of the region can establish or improve the legal and regulatory framework to ensure a free, independent and pluralistic media environment.”

The participants adopted a final declaration, highlighting the major areas where concrete action is needed by all stakeholders to promote media freedom. The main recommendations concern the need for the state to withdraw from the media, the need to secure the financial and political independence of public service broadcasters and the need to speed up reform of media legislation in line with international standards and OSCE commitments on media freedom. The text of the final declaration will be available shortly on www.osce.org/fom.

Source: OSCE

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