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.

Through capacity development, technical assistance, small grants, and mentoring, the program enables independent media system actors in Serbia to develop and implement new business models, tools, and techniques to grow their revenue and expand their audience, thus moving toward long-term sustainability.

Quick Facts

  • The program supported the development of 50 grants for business innovation, audience engagement, and partnerships.
  • Strengthening Media Systems supported the launch of the first Serbian podcast player app and online podcast community site, which includes 170 podcasts. The mobile applications are available on Google Play for Android and the App Store for iOS.
  • Media partners achieved significant growth in their audiences. Partners generated $200,000 through online fundraising and e-payments.
  • Twenty media outlets now use software for advanced web analytics and have expert support that helps foster data-driven mindsets for improving business models and operations.
  • 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.


  • 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

  • Technical assistance through grants and expert support: Through capacity development, technical assistance, grants, mentoring, and expert support, the program is changing mindsets among independent media system actors in Serbia, helping them to grow their revenue, expand their audiences, and move toward long-term sustainability.
  • Modern business models: Local media organizations receive support in modernizing their business models and outreach techniques to improve their long-term sustainability.
  • 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.
  • Sustainability hubs: The program is supporting two organizations dedicated to creating mechanisms and tools for continuous learning and development. Hubs share lessons learned with the wider media community and support sustainability for continued media business development.
  • 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. The program is conducting a comprehensive demand-side study to determine audience values, needs, and interests. The program aims to advocate for a “new market currency” based on audience loyalty and engagement metrics.
  • Self-regulatory bodies: With support from the program, the National Association for Ethical Standards in Advertising was created as an independent, nongovernmental, and nonprofit association that defines ethical standards in advertising and marketing communication.
  • New media: The program’s Media Jam initiative focuses on developing new digital ideas and solutions among traditional and nontraditional players in the media sector. These activities are establishing a foundation for networking between media, IT, and marketing professionals in order to generate innovations that could be industry disruptive and financially sustainable.


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Evan Tracz, Chief of Party,