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(UNESCO / Japan Young Researchers' fellowships programme)

Media as a tool of democratization: promoting free media in post-conflict society

Summary of research carried out: 
Media as a tool of democratization: promoting free media in post-conflict society

Over a 10-month period, I have conducted research which has enabled me to write two draft chapters, which will become parts of my final PhD thesis. The first chapter is about reforms to media legislation and regulations in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1996 and 2010, while the other is about the creation of the state-wide broadcast media supported by the international community.

Reform of the media legislation and regulations was part of the media assistance from the international community following the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The goal was to create modern law and regulations at the state level, in accordance with European best practices, in order to help the state-building process. A number of laws were introduced after the war, including those regulating free access to information and decriminalizing defamation. According to the research I have conducted, what is missing is implementation of these laws. The state did not become any stronger, and was not able to enforce implementation.

In the field of regulations, the state regulatory agency was created in 1999 and it still exists. According to most of the people I have talked to for the purpose of this research, the existing regulatory agency is considered to be successful in its work, and is studied around the world as an example of how regulators should function in post-war countries.

For the purpose of this chapter, I have conducted a number of interviews with people who were directly involved in the process of creating laws or regulatory bodies, as well as local media and legal professionals, who commented on efficacy and implementation.

The second part of the research I have conducted over the same period of time is concerned with the creation of the broadcast media by the international community. The goal was to introduce more plurality in the country in order to help the democratization process, as well as to suppress the media controlled by local nationalist politicians. For that purpose, different international organizations and foundations present in Bosnia and Herzegovina created mostly broadcast media which covered the whole country and employed people of different nationalities. According to those I have interviewed for the purpose of this part of the research, those media were partially successful in creating the space for journalists to work together and for the audience to listen to state-wide media. Economically, however, those media were not sustainable and they disappeared after a couple of years in the form in which they were created.

At the same time, they did not have a significant impact on the local media in terms of professionalization. The audience accepted those media as something run by the international community, and looked at them as a different form of propaganda compared with what existed and was controlled by local politicians. According to the results of my research, creation of the media by the international community in post-conflict countries, as part of media assistance efforts, does not appear to be a successful model.