This follows two days of debates in Montenegro which heard from the top management of Montenegrin Member RTCG and representatives from the country’s parliament, government and regulatory authorities as well as civil sector and media experts.
In a statement, the EBU says that the aim of the meeting was to discuss the major challenges for the development of PSM in the Western Balkans, to compare practices in the region and to look for ways to overcome the challenges.
It adds that its head of member relations for Central and Eastern Europe Radka Betcheva highlighted how important it is for the public to understand the contribution PSM makes to society and democracy.
“When this is understood well we will be able to develop, and properly implement, appropriate legal frameworks, institutional frameworks and ensure adequate and stable funding for PSM.
“Of course, for this we need a clear political will and commitment and above all the understanding that PSM are there to serve the public interest, not single politicians or political parties, and criticise the wrongdoings of those in power.”
Meanwhile, The EU Ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav said that: “We cannot stress enough the importance of public service broadcasters. They bear much greater responsibility than the private media – they are there not only to inform citizens, but also to educate them and to give them access to content that is in the public interest.
“Public service broadcasters should be the driving force behind the democratisation of societies and we need to support their full independence.”
Ambassador Orav recalled that freedom of expression is among the interim benchmarks for Chapter 23 (Justice and Fundamental Rights), which must be fulfilled in order for a country to move to the next phase of EU integration.
The EBU notes that participants at the debates engaged in heated discussions about models of funding, contracts with government, independence of PSM, division of supervisory and managerial powers in PSM, instability of PSM, the criteria for electing members of supervisory bodies, involvement of regulatory agencies in the election process, representation, governing bodies in the Council and the professionalization of PSM.
The debates will be continued this week (beginning October 8) in Kosovo and over the coming months in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, continuing next year in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
They are organised within the framework of a joint project to support PSM in the Western Balkans, financed by the European Commission and implemented by a consortium of EBU, ORF, IFJ, EFJ, BIRN, and ERNO.