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Media Organizations of the Eastern Partnership Ask European Institutions to Support Independent Media

12 May 2020
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33 media organizations based in the European Unions’ Eastern Partnership signed a joint letter calling for EU, OSCE, Council of Europe and UNESCO structures to support the independent press in the region which has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the national governments’ recent decisions concerning media activities. Among the eight parties to sign the document on behalf of Moldova was the Independent Journalism Center.

The letter states that the Covid-19 pandemic has not only claimed thousands of lives but also left an economic impact and shaken the fundamental principles of press freedom. The ones to have suffered most are, in the signatories’ opinion, small institutions that had long been competing with Russia-backed media.

Once the state of emergency was declared it decimated the independent media’s chances of surviving and prospering, since advertising and other sources of income have diminished sharply in the EaP countries. At the same time, there have been cases of restricted access to information in Moldova, Armenia and Georgia. In Azerbaijan and Belarus, journalists and civic activists are being persecuted, and Ukrainian newsagents are unprotected by the authorities.

In this situation media organizations are urging the European authorities to increase funding to cover the damage caused by the pandemic, including foreign grants available to media. Also, the NGOs point out the need to support audience research and competence building for media businesses: “In the context of limited human and financial resources such support would expand the audience and increase the viability of media institutions, with an exclusive focus on the post-pandemic period”.

The signatories’ requests also include support for regional initiatives to improve media literacy through combating disinformation and encouraging critical thinking in media consumers.

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