Point of View

Financial transparency of mass media emphasized


"3 million people live in Albania, and everybody knows each other, but we don't know where the media gets money from. These are mainly unknown sources," Remzi Lani, Executive Director of Albanian Media Institute, says.

The law on media needs to be regularly amended not only in Armenia but also in foreign countries: the role of civil society institutions in this field was emphasized during the three-day discussions of "What Future For Democracy and Civil Society" conference.  

During the discussions, representatives of media and experts from different countries emphasized the importance of financial transparency of mass media.  

Colleagues from Georgia informed the participants that this year representatives of civil society institutions in Georgia have proposed to oblige media by the Law on Mass media to inform where they get funding from and how those funds are used.

According to Ashot Melikyan, Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Freedom of Expression, the situation in Armenia is easier, since newspapers regularly publish such data; besides, Armenia is a small country, everybody knows who they belong to.

The situation in Latvia is better: researcher Yanis Yuzefovich informed the conference that recently their parliament has adopted amendments in the Law on mass media, which stipulate the process of making the owners known and obliging them to prove legitimacy of funds when making the financial investments.

In Albania the situation is different: according to Remzi Lani, they don't know what funds are invested in media. When speaking about the importance of investigative articles, Remzi Lani mentioned that in Albania the media which have money are not interested in investigative journalism, and those that interested have no money.     

Touching upon grant projects, Gordana Jankovic, Director of OSF-London Media Program, said that for implementing investigation projects in some countries there are credit foundations than attempt to support sustainable projects. 

"But, of course, we can't say the same about governments and banks that rarely fund such projects. The World Bank and international structures can hardly help either; they are more interested in supporting mass media but not particularly investigative journalism," Jankovic said.  

Public TV Company as means of propaganda

In Ashot Melikyan's opinion, the public TV company in Armenia does not accomplish its functions, and a question arises - is there a need in such a public TV company?

Remzi Lani noted that it is a shortcoming typical of former Soviet republics, and that in Albania too, the public TV company is viewed as a ministry of propaganda. 

Latvian researcher Yanis Yuzefovic marked out the role of civil society institutions in this field: "We always have difficulties in realizing if this is the result of political pressure or non-professionalism and find the second version as more likely. We believe the only solution is the involvement of civil society institutions in supervision of public TV companies."

Karine Ionesyan

Source - www.hra.am