Strengthening partnerships and sharing experience

MedMedia recognises that the countries of the Southern Mediterranean Region have vital experience and know-how to share. Governments which are taking their first steps on the road to democracy can learn from their neighbours who have already faced and overcome similar challenges and should be involved in the dialogue around media reform processes.

Mechanisms and approaches embraced at international level by the European Union or the United Nations can also help to shape reform processes and provide valuable benchmarks.

Mapping reform processes

Over recent years – and particularly in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings – international and local experts have produced a significant body of research and comparative studies of the region’s media landscape.

Much of this work does not get the exposure it deserves whilst there is currently no single platform dedicated to collating research findings, legal resources and key policy documents or to tracking media reforms on a regional level.

A more effective dissemination mechanism could help policy-makers and media leaders gain swift access to information which could have a significant impact on reform initiatives.

Promoting public service values

For many practitioners – especially those competing with dynamic, entertainment-based satellite channels – there is a perception that public service outputs are “worthy but dull”. Some are concerned about losing mainstream audiences if they introduce too much “serious” programming or seek to provide proper representation to minority interest groups.

At the same time, the key competitive strength of public service media – the ability to produce localised programmes which reflect the interests and concerns of national audiences – is often overlooked.

Strengthening public trust

Audiences across the Arab world feel that state-funded media have failed to keep pace with recent events and, in particular, continue to ignore the needs of the youth demographic.

Furthermore, the perception that state media remain subservient to governments has damaged their credibility. The apparent lack of proper governance mechanisms and declared editorial values also stands in the way of building public trust.

Responding to new imperatives

The Med Media programme will get right to the heart of these problems by pushing for greater transparency in the sector and greater responsiveness to new imperatives.

By bringing all key stakeholder groups together in a supportive environment, the project could play a key role in breaking the political deadlock which has arisen in some of the partner countries and securing consensus on a wide range of media-related issues.