Hahn requests greater media freedom from Balkan governments


In a video address to the regional conference of BIRN in Sarajevo “Challenges to media freedom,” EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn sated that the situation of media freedom on the Balkans causes great concern and demands immediate attention.

Hahn said that freedom of the media on the Balkans remains a point of particular concern for the European Commission, especially the issue of government interference and threats against the independence of public service broadcasters.
“We are facing important challenges that must be urgently addressed. Despite government interference, more efforts must be paid to the political and financial independence of regulatory bodies, as well as the effective operation of self-regulation, “said Hahn.

He said he would continue to press the governments in the region to make progress in this field.

“There is a need for us to deal with informal economic pressure over the media. This includes transparency of ownership of the media and prevention of excessive media concentration. No less important is the transparency in government advertising,” said Hahn.

At the conference, held as part of the 10th anniversary of BIRN, was also adopted a list of recommendations to the governments of the Balkans aimed at improving the situation of the media in the region.

The recommendations are the result of the joint effort of more than 30 media professionals and experts who gathered in Sarajevo a day earlier for the regional workshop on freedom of speech. They discussed issues related to labor rights, the state funding of the media and the public services, the media market, the transparency of media ownership, as well as the representation of vulnerable and marginalized groups.

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