SEEMO declaration 2008

Vienna, 9 January 2009

The Ljubljana Recommendations on Public Broadcasting

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), as the result of its December Conference held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, organized with the support of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) – Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC), and Radio Television Slovenia,


1. That state-controlled broadcasting should not be permitted; public funds should be devoted only to editorially independent public service broadcasting. Public service broadcasting should serve as a medium for the expression and debate of different views, and for the promotion of basic values; it should provide the society with information, education, culture and entertainment reflecting cultural (including minority), religious, national, sexual and language diversities. Public service broadcasting should promote social cohesion and respect the important role it has in the education of the population of a country. Public service broadcasters should refrain from making programming decisions on a purely commercial basis.

2. The development of editorially independent public service broadcasting; this should be guaranteed by law. It should be up to the editorial board of the broadcasters, not government or regulatory bodies nor political parties or commercial entities, to make decisions about what to broadcast. Manipulation of information under political influence is not acceptable. Public service broadcasters should be open, and not a propaganda service of one political, religious or other party. Every state should define and implement an appropriate legal, institutional and financial framework for the functioning of the public broadcasting service (PBS).

3. To support the right of journalists and programme producers in broadcasting organizations to exercise their profession safely and without interference. Therefore, the introduction of guidelines for journalistic practices in public broadcasting media would be appreciated. These guidelines should be developed by the journalists themselves, without interference from governments, political parties or other interest groups. Public service broadcasters should promote investigative journalism, and fight corruption, extremism, and nepotism.

4. All positions in public broadcasting media, including the leading positions, should be open to women and men, regardless of their political, sexual, religious and national affiliations. The procedure of recruitment should be through public tender.

5. That public broadcasting corporations be politically independent and financially viable. The financial security and economic independence of public service broadcasters are necessary for their proper operation and credibility in the society. It is the duty of national parliaments and governments to ensure stable, adequate and predictable financing, and if necessary to assure diversified funding, including – but not limited to – viewers’ and listeners’ fees, other forms of public funding as well as advertising to an extent which reflects an increasingly competitive environment. Funding of public service broadcasters must be transparent.

6. That all important annual reports, including annual financial reports of the PBS, as well as details about numbers of employees in the public broadcasting system, are transparent and open to the public and media.

7. The abolition of monopolies and, while not questioning the privileged position of public service broadcasters in the exercise of their tasks, of all forms of discrimination in broadcasting and frequency allocation, as well as the abolition of all unnecessary barriers for private electronic media.

8. Stronger cross-border cooperation between public broadcasting services in South East and Central Europe, stronger cooperation within the EBU, but also stronger bilateral cooperation between different public broadcasting systems, as well as good cooperation between public and private broadcasters. The dual system of public and private broadcasters is an essential element of democracy.

9. That public service broadcasters should be guaranteed licenses for digital broadcasting and multimedia operations. It is the duty of the PBS to introduce and use the new technologies and means of production and transmission via all possible platforms. Specialisation of channels is a chance and imperative for PBS – enabling the public to receive general and specialised programmes taking into account different interests.

10. The promotion of the PBS. The PBS has to communicate with public and civil society and not (only) with politicians and other elites. The PBS shall regularly examine its role through independent surveys and analyses.