When it comes to the digital switchover, it seems that the common feature across the SEE region is the delay. Out of the seven countries included in the study, only two managed to keep up with the initial plan and, by June 2015, there were still countries struggling with the digital switchover implementation and consequences.
The digital switchover cannot be related to the fact that some of the countries belonged to the EU while the rest are just aspiring members, the political control over the process across the region, a broader access to information which has triggered a diminished amount of local news, the effort of local stations to identify cheaper alternatives to the costly digital broadcast and the new gatekeepers controlling the access of the public to information – are the main findings of this regional study based on national reports of media experts in Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia.
The report – the second in a series of six dedicated to freedom of expression in the region – is part of the program South East European Partnership for Media Development, implemented by a consortium of media organizations from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania.
The partnership is aimed at bringing new stakeholders to the public debate related to media freedom and independence and at creating synergies between the media organizations and these stakeholders (trade unions, freedom of expression groups, teachers, parents, state actors, etc).
The project addresses three main topics: labour conditions for journalists, media education (both for journalists and the public) and freedom of expression at large and is going to be conducted until 2017.