Strengthening Independent Minority Media (SIMM)
While providing assistance mainly to the Serbian language radio network KOSMA and Serbian language TV network TV Mreza, SIMM also encourages other minority language media efforts through production grants to team with the KOSMA network. SIMM also supports the Minority Media Fund (MMF) in its efforts to fund minority media projects that increase the quantity and quality of information for minority communities and ensure sustainability of minority media outlets.
• Link and Strengthen Minority Broadcast Media
• Link select minority language television and radio broadcasters to form independent networks that cover Kosovo
• Ensure that stations’ and networks’ news and information programming meets professional standards
• Ensure that linked stations and networks are well managed businesses.
• Strengthen Independent Media Enabling Institutions
• Assist the Minority Media Fund (MMF) with transparent operations and grant giving programs
• Support the Independent Media Commission (IMC) in fair media regulation, especially as concerns the operations and needs of minority media
Since the end of the NATO air campaign in 1999, vibrant and energetic Albanian language media have, with international support, developed in Kosovo. Two private national TV stations, KTV and RTV21, compete on equal terms with the public broadcaster RTK. There are four Albanian language Kosovo-wide radio stations, two public and two private, which provide a mixture of music and news. Serbian-language media, however, operate in a different political and economic context that hinders their development. Serb media are scattered and fragmented, often serving little more than individual village communities and reflective of the dispersion of the Serb population in Kosovo. While 15 percent of the public broadcaster’s schedule is devoted to minority languages, few Serbs watch or listen.
As the Kosovo Assembly passes legislation protecting the rights of minorities and their municipalities, parallel institutions in Serb areas are taking over functions of the relatively new national government. Caught in the middle are Serb radio and TV stations, which are seen as conspiring with the international community by many Serb nationalists, some of whom are still pushing for rejection of Kosovo’s independence. Continued engagement and support for these stations is critical if they are to become advocates of social and ethnic cohesion rather than separatism.
• Network Minority Broadcast Media. IREX creates and maintains a system that utilizes internet technology to link the news and information production of its Serbian-language TV partners. In addition to building a Serbian-language television network, IREX supports the existing KOSMA radio network and facilitates new and active content producers.
• Business and Financial Management. IREX instituted professional development plans for the business management of the network member stations. Audience surveys allow the stations to develop their advertising sales and improve the rates they charge.
• Professional Development and Training for Media Practitioners. A professional development program for journalists and media practitioners improves the quality and content of news broadcasts. A monitoring program is in place to determine the level of success.
• Strengthen Independent Media Enabling Institutions. IREX works with local associations to ensure that the legal and regulatory framework in Kosovo supports fair and transparent broadcast licensing, enforces regulation, and promotes an environment to support and protect the free speech rights of all media and journalists. This includes monitoring the Independent Media Commission’s (IMC) proper implementation of the broadcast relicensing process and providing assistance to the Minority Media Fund (MMF) to ensure its operations and grant-giving procedures are fair and transparent.
News & Impact
An overview of the SIMM project
2-page factsheet on the Strengthening Independent Minority Media project in Kosovo