Media situation in East and South East Europe remains critical

KAS Media Program at the 15th Frankfurt Media Law Days

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The media situation in the countries of East and South East Europe were the central topic of the 15th Frankfurt Media Law Days. The event was hosted by Viadrina European University and Southeast Europe Association with the support of the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS). Prof. Dr. Johannes Weberling was the chairperson of the expert conference.

The event was opened by Prof. Dr. Claudia Weber, Vice-President of Viadrina European University, and Dr. Hansjörg Brey, Executive Director of the Southeast Europe Association. Subsequently, Prof. Dr. Johannes Weberling gave a lecture on the media situation in South East Europe and described the developments of the past 15 years. Hereby he emphasised that the media situation increasingly worsened. In his opinion the biggest issues are obscure media ownership respectively media which are in the hands of oligarchs, external political pressure, lack of self-regulation, self-censorship and increasing conformism among the journalists.

The second conference day started with a discussion on the topic "Media Law in South East Europe. Theory and Reality". The discussion was moderated by Darija Fabijanić, Research Associate at the KAS Media Program South East Europe. Panellists were Hartmut Rank, Head of the KAS Rule of Law Program, Brikena Kasmi, Lawyer and Lecturer at the University of Tirana, Dejan Milenković, Professor for media law at the University of Belgrade, and the Hungarian media expert Petra Szavai. The main questions during the discussion were the current developments in the media legislation and how successful media laws are implemented in Romania, Albania, Serbia and Hungary. In general the discussion showed that the legal framework for a free and pluralistic media landscape exists, yet the entanglements of media companies with political and economic actors constrain free reporting.

Journalists, lawyers, media and legal experts from Germany and Eastern Europe also debated about investigative journalism in the region, how to protect it and about the prevention of media monopolies by ensuring transparency.

During the Frankfurt Media Law Days traditionally the "Article 10 ECHR" Task Force holds a meeting. This time the expert group talked about changes in the media legislation and the media situation in Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland and Serbia. The task force meets regularly in order to point out problems in the media industry. Thus, the group already discussed topics such as "Higher media diversity through independent pools of journalists", "Media and their dealing with the past" and "Media education and fact checking: remedies against fake news". The KAS Media Program South East Europe has hosted joint workshops with the "Article 10 ECHR" Task Force and has formulated recommendations and guidelines on media topics for journalists and media experts. More here .


Darija Fabijanić

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Frankfurt, June 28, 2018