North Macedonia: Enhancement of capacities of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services and the Public Service Broadcaster

Persons in Photograph (left to right): from left to right): RTA Assistant Dervisha Hadzic-Rahic, RTA Ulrich Hermanski, Project Leader Holger Albrich, BC Project Leader Dimitar Tanurov, Project Manager Andreea Pop, BC Component Leader 1 Saso Bogdanovski, BC Component Leader 2 Maja Stojanovska, EUD Programme Manager Sanja Frkovic-Gelevska, AAAVMS Director Zoran Trajcevski, AAAVMS Department Head Dragica Ljubevska, RTA Language Assistant Elizabeta Mladenovska.

EU Twinning
Project Leader: Holger Albrich
RTA: Ulrich Hermanski
Component Leaders: Verena Schneider (CL1), Michael Krons (CL2)
Responsible at the IRZ: Katharina Tegeder, Andreea Pop

Starting in June 2023, the IRZ is implementing the “Enhancement of capacities of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services and the Public Service Broadcaster” Twinning Project, which will run for 18 months and has a budget of EUR 788.000.

This Twinning project aims to support and improve the work of the two named institutions, enabling them to better meet current and future challenges.

In the last years, North-Macedonia has made significant strides towards updating its legislative system and the national institutions supporting freedom of expression in order to match global standards and the EU Acquis.

However, despite this progress, these efforts have only had a limited impact thus far and work towards further developments is being maintained. Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of functioning democracies, and the project team and IRZ are committed to strengthening this right in the Republic of Northern Macedonia.

Laws impacting the work of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services (AAAVMS) and regulating the media landscape are currently under discussion. In addition, the ever-changing social media landscape as well as its impact on traditional public broadcasting poses a challenge to both the AAAVMS and the Public Service Broadcaster, which must keep up with the ongoing digitalisation process.

The overall objective of this project is, as the name states, to strengthen the institutional and administrative capacities of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services and the Public Service Broadcaster. Based on the country’s developing legal and regulatory framework, EU acquis and the best practices of EU Member States, a more effective and efficient performance of the institutions is being targeted.

A first Steering Committee Meeting for the project has been organised in Skopje on 12.07.2023, with the participants listed in the above photograph. A Kick-off Event is planned for the end of the year 2023.

The project has two components, each dedicated to one of the project beneficiaries. Collaboration between the project partners is ongoing and well-developed, ensuring a cohesive implementation process.

Component 1: Supporting the Agency for audio and audio-visual media services (AAAVMS)

The AAAVMS is facing challenges related to the country’s ongoing legal reform, as laws and by-laws which are currently under approval processes will impact the AAAVMS’s work practices, and should be harmonised with its own Directive. In order to support in this process, German Experts will provide capacity development in the form of workshops and trainings in order to support the implementation of the new laws/ by-laws along with the Directive. In addition, European best practices will be jointly adapted to the Macedonian context and disseminated among the staff, in order to ensure sustainable capacity for transposing the AAAVMS Directive into potentially changing national legislation.

An additional goal for the Agency within this Twinning project is the promotion of media literacy skills and a more effective combat against disinformation and unethical media reporting, including monitoring of media reporting on human rights. The German experts in this field are meeting with their Macedonian counterparts to discuss specific topics and best approaches to building up staff skills for effective monitoring and implementation of the legal provisions about media literacy, detection, analysis of disinformation, monitoring of media content reporting on human rights.

Component 2: Supporting the Public Service Broadcaster (PSB)

The second component focuses on providing expertise to the Macedonian PSB. This institution faces challenges particular to its field of work and historical context, which the Twinning project aims to address through a close collaboration.

One of the first objectives of the component is to improve the tools for monitoring and evaluating the current state of PSB's ability to assess public opinion about its services, and to recommend or develop improved tools for this task. the services of the Public Broadcasting Service.

In addition, German Experts aim to support the production of higher-quality programmes based on proper audience segmentation and improved journalistic and management approaches. This includes the use of internet and social media channels as well as the introduction of international quality standards for journalistic work through trainings and workshops.

Policy documents on the transformation of radio and television production in North Macedonia, including recommendations for supply of technical equipment, as well as improvements regarding editorial and management structures of PSB are targeted outputs of the project.

Focusing on supporting the EU Aquis, the German experts will also work to improve the understanding of the European standards and practices about media freedom and public broadcasting service within the institution. This work will consist of round tables and workshops as well as case studies on the standards and practices about media freedom and functioning of public broadcasting service in EU Member States.