Donor: Open Society Foundation
Role of IJAS: project partner
Budget: RSD 472,000
Implementation time: June 2020 – June 2021
About the project:
Non-transparent, uncontrolled and arbitrary spending of public money is recognized as one of the most efficient mechanisms of the so-called. “Soft censorship”, which negatively affects the economic viability of the media, and thus their independence, more detailed information on the file: .
Over the past two years, BIRN, with IJAS and the Slavko Curuvija Foundation, has implemented the Public Money for the Public Interest project and systematically monitored this spending and pointed to the misuse of public funds (the project was supported by DEU and FOD Serbia co-financed this project). .
The problems we have identified and on which it is necessary to continue working in order to reach sustainable solutions and their incorporation into the new media regulations are: numerous abuses in the process of project financing of media (arbitrary election of commission members, support for tabloid media and media close to government , lack of civic participation and supervision), with a low level of quality of produced content; inadequate regulations governing the allocation of individual benefits; lack of market and cost analysis when ordering public procurement; increasing public budgets for direct contracting of various types of media and promotional services that significantly affect editorial independence.
The proposed project will include – monitoring, analysis, public information, involvement of local CSOs and public advocacy. As the implementation of this project coincides with the start of the Media Strategy and the announced amendments to the law, BIRN and IJAS will use their presence in the working groups to ensure that the mapped issues and proposed solutions are part of the new legislation, thus reducing abuses and corruption.
1. Monitoring the spending of public funds on media content – monitoring the spending of public funds in the media sector and monitoring the effects of spending on the realization of public interest in information. BIRN’s database on kazitrazi.rs is currently the most complete database for monitoring media funding, containing numerous indicators for assessing the quality of the legal framework that defines state media funding, monitoring major funding models and their application in practice, and influencing media sustainability and editorial independence. It is necessary to continue working on monitoring these indicators and discovering new trends, as well as on solutions for the current situation.
2. Production of reports – in cooperation with partners from local organizations, and after the research, a total of 7 reports will be published on the project site kazitrazi.rs. One report will be published in connection with public procurement and direct contracting, and 5 reports will deal with different aspects of media content produced on the basis of a competition. These reports will provide new insight into the evaluation of the effects of government funding. BIRN conducted this type of analysis for the first time in 2016 and then in 2019, and the emphasis will be on a deeper analysis of certain aspects of the content – for example, analysis of tabloid media projects, youth reporting, corruption, special aspects of human rights, regular programs, etc. Previous reports and content analyzes are available at https://kazitrazi.rs/izvestaji/ The reports will be promoted on social media and available on BIRN’s program website. They will also be forwarded to the CSO sector, local and national media and media associations. The reports will serve as a starting point for possible changes and legal amendments.
3. Advocacy activities: a) Advocacy will be conducted with the aim of influencing changes and improvements in the normative framework, laws and implementation of laws regulating the sphere of media financing with budget funds. These activities will be harmonized with the calendar of implementation of the Media Strategy, deadlines from the Action Plan (currently under development) and amendments to media laws. The biggest advantage in this segment of activities is that BIRN and IJAS have their representatives in the relevant working groups, which gives a good position for negotiations with government officials.