Coordination and local perspective

Coordination on political and strategic level is necessary

Local participants have recognized the need for better coordination of media assistance efforts.

At the moment it exists on the operational and technical levels, in the form of the exchange of information on what individual donors are doing. On the political and strategic level there is not enough coordination, and thus more substantial changes are missing.

According to participants, the current level of donor assistance and coordination enables independent media to survive, and not to develop.

“I truly believe that the assistance was not efficient but limited and insufficient” -Local donor representative

“Looking at the market size in Serbia, which consists of state funding, advertising and donor support, in the best of times donor support did not exceed 5%. Donor funding has marginally affected the media market”, local media consultant

To increase the effectiveness of the limited donor funding, efforts can be made to exert pressure on the government and political structure to improve the regulatory environment for media and secure fair treatment of them in the market.

“My expectation from the international assistance is to regulate transparency of the market, and not to make us compete in this unfair conditions. There is no transparency, no one knows how much money state and public companies are giving to the media, what I can see is that those supporting the ruling party are doing well under these conditions”, local media representative

Additionally, participants highlighted that the baseline data and assumptions used for the planning are often not accurate, and that more efforts should be invested in hard-fact research and transparency of data.

Local perspectives should be better recognized in determining priorities

Participants highlighted some limitations when it comes to the top-down approach to programme design and implementation. Although consultations are formally part of that process, in reality local perspectives are often overheard. This is especially important since many media assistance programmes implemented in Serbia are actually regional – for all six Balkan countries.

“Determining the same priorities for the six different countries and different contexts is not efficient, some priorities can be relevant for some but not for all countries in the region. In these situations local offices implement programmes because they were selected as regional priorities even though they are not likely to be effective”, local donor representative.

“Priorities do not reach headquarters due to generalisation - local input reaches several instances before reaching the headquarters, and there they choose five priorities, and our priorities are not in those five…We do send information to headquarters but they get lost.” -Local donor representative.

Global priorities affect the budgets, priorities and donor strategies. Participants fear that war in Ukraine will affect the size of the funding for other countries, and will change the focus of programme support with even more emphasis on disinformation.

“Even before COVID-19 we said to our headquarters to not insist on disinformation programmes, and that it can be counterproductive in our context. Now the focus is even more on disinformation.” - Local donor representative.

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