Strengthening Media Systems

Strengthening Media Systems


Strengthening Media Systems (SMS) is a four-year USAID-funded program that is enabling media in Serbia to improve the regulatory and market environment.

The program aims to provide citizens with the quality, unbiased information they need to be better informed participants in the democratic process.

Staff work closely with Serbian media organizations to strengthen their ability to sustain their activities. They use innovative business models, tools, and techniques to increase their revenue and expand their reach.

Seeking Concept Papers

We are seeking media outlets and media support organizations to improve the media's financial sustainability and business environment in Serbia.

Quick Facts

  • The program supported the creation of the first Serbian self-regulatory body for advertisers and marketing communications, the National Association for Ethical Standards in Advertising.
  • Staff organized 11 preparatory events in partnership with the Impact Hub in Belgrade, which provided support for the program’s podcasting initiative. These meetups gathered over 250 participants to interact with 24 experts, podcasters, and media professionals.
  • 18 teams competed in a hackathon, in which 43 podcasters, creatives, IT professionals, and civil society representatives competed for most innovative podcast design.
  • More than 80 media professionals from 40 outlets attended five workshops and developed tools to adapt to the new Serbian Law on Personal Data Protection.


  • Support the development of a more enabling legal, regulatory, and market environment for media in Serbia.
  • Support the development of financial sustainability, innovation, and partnerships in the Serbian media sector.
The Independent Journalists Association of Vojvodina is very excited.... This campaign has been successful in the first days since its launch. Maja Ledjenac, executive committee member at IJAV

Project Activities

  • Data for the media industry: The program is standardizing procedures and mechanisms to determine the value of media outlets and the media market, and to provide data for advertisers and the media industry. Recognizing the need for reliable data on public media consumption patterns, the project is also conducting a comprehensive demand-side study to determine audience values, needs, and interests regarding media content.
  • Modern business models: Local media organizations receive support in modernizing their business models and outreach techniques to improve their long-term sustainability.
  • Regulatory bodies: With support from the program, the National Association for Ethical Standards in Advertising (NAESA), an independent, nongovernmental and nonprofit association that defines ethical standards in advertising and marketing communication was created. NAESA will also enable smaller independent media organizations to interact with advertisers and marketing agencies and improve standards in advertising.
  • E-payment services: An e-payment task force established by the program assists media outlets that face challenges in monetizing their online services and meeting new regulations.
  • Technical assistance through grants: Six media outlets test new business models and receive technical assistance through grants. Four more media outlets receive additional technical support and mentoring, based on plans created to fit the needs of individual outlets, in areas such as advocacy, constituency building, business planning, organizational performance improvement, data gathering and research, public policy development, and monitoring and evaluation.
  • New media: The program’s Media Jam initiative focuses on developing a sustainable podcasting community, which is a new type of content for the Serbian market. These activities are establishing a foundation for networking between media, IT, and marketing professionals in order to build a hub for creating, promoting, and distributing podcasts.

Watch the video in Serbian »


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Evan Tracz, Chief of Party,


  • Media
  • Technology
  • Europe & Eurasia
  • Serbia