Belarus : Supporting independent broadcasing and freedom of expression

Project Dates
December 2008 – December 2010

A two-year international project "Support to freedom of expression in Belarus via independent broadcasting" officially launched in Vilnius on January 15-16, 2009. The project, which focuses on radio journalism programming and trainings for young Belarusians, is supported by the European Commission as well as by United States development agency (USAID) and the Transition Promotion Program of the Czech Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The project is implemented jointly by IREX Europe and its partners: the BBC World Service Trust (BBCWST) and European Radio for Belarus (ERB), as well as by Associate Partners: the European Humanities University (EHU) and the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS). The project focuses on producing quality informative programming for a Belarusian youth audience and also has a strong journalism education component.

More than 20 trainings in radio journalism will be delivered by the BBCWST and IREX Europe for the students and teachers at the EHU. The training will be “learning by doing” practical trainings, and to facilitate these a special radio production and training studio will be built at the EHU. At least 90 young Belarusian students will receive professional training aimed at helping them produce their own student radio programming. As the BBCWST Training Co-ordinator, Ellie Haworth says, "The BBC World Service Trust is looking forward to working with 90 students at the European Humanities University (EHU) to train them in radio broadcasting and editorial standards. The aim is that several student teams will use the in depth journalism and technical training to produce programmes to be broadcast on ERB. We hope that together with our partners on the project we can help the development of brilliant young journalists for the future." In Vilnius the project implementing team met with staff and students at the EHU to discuss a training programme and the installation of the student’s radio training and production studio.

"There are numerous advantages and expectations from this project, as far as EHU is concerned. Firstly, this project is an important possibility to diversify our educational process by giving to all students of the university, including those who study at the distance or on the low residence programs, a chance to learn practical skills from the BBC WTS high-profile professionals. Secondly, the radio studio which is soon to be established at EHU, as we hope, will become an important platform bringing together both students’ community and faculty members to engage into the process of creative and professional media production at the university" - says Almira Ousmanova, Professor of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Director of Master’s Program on Cultural Studies of EHU.

The broadcasting part of the project will include 552 daily programs "Eurozoom" and 90 weekly discussion shows "Forum Belarus" to be broadcast on ERB. ERB is an exile radio broadcasting to a youth audience in Belarus from Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania on FM, Satellite and Internet (www.euroradio.fm) . The students of EHU will also contribute to the project preparing their own weekly program to be broadcast on ERB. "This is the first initiative of this scope focused on youth broadcasting in Belarus. We will work to ensure that our programming responds to the very latest demands of the Belarusian audience and gives them really unique and up-to-date information about events in Belarus, Europe and around the world. We are confident that BISS and EHU as partners will ensure our strong ties with academic circles and civil society actors in Belarus", - adds Andrzej Bielecki, ERB Vice-President .

"IREX Europe is delighted to have this opportunity to work with young Belarusian journalists at ERB to increase the flow of independent and accurate information into Belarus so that young Belarusians can make better informed decisions about the future of their country. Similarly, we are very excited about helping the EHU develop its journalism training capacity through the radio studio and trainings that will be carried out at the EHU", - sums up Mike de Villiers, IREX Europe Director.

*** Project leader IREX Europe: is an international nonprofit development organisation specializing in designing and implementing civil society, independent media, education, and Internet access programmes. The IREX Europe approach emphasizes partnerships with local development organisations to expand capacity, build sustainable institutions and effect change. IREX Europe, registered as an association in France, derives its founding principles from the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), a US nonprofit organisation specializing in education, independent media, Internet development, and civil society programmes in the United States, Europe, Eurasia, Africa, the Near East, and Asia. IREX Europe and IREX work in close cooperation, sharing resources and skills for the benefit of people striving to live in fairer, freer and more prosperous societies. IREX Europe can draw from an extensive pool of development professionals, programme alumni, and consultant experts for its training, partnership, education, research, and grant projects.

With more than 100 field offices in 25 countries as well as numerous local partners in capitals and regional cities, IREX and IREX Europe have broad resources to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate programming.


Project partner BBCWST: created in 1999, the BBC World Service Trust is the BBC’s international development arm and a UK registered charity. The Trust supports the development of independent media in transitional and developing countries through training, consultancy and technical support. The Trust is active in over 50 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Whilst training and support for programme-making are the bedrock of the Trust’s work, it has extensive experience in the broader field of media development, including capacity-building, the regulatory environment, change management and reconstruction, and awareness campaigns. Its core mission is to use media and communications to reduce poverty and promote human rights, thereby enabling people to live better lives. The Trust believes that vibrant, independent media are critical to a country’s good governance and the development of free and just societies. The Trust shares the BBC’s ambition that media should provide accurate, reliable and impartial information to enable people to make informed decisions, and we aspire to a world where individuals and civil society use media and communications to become effective participants in their own political, economic, social and cultural development. To achieve its vision, the BBC Trust partners with civil society, the media and governments to build long-term development solutions. Its work is focussed around three key themes: governance and human rights, health, and learning for livelihoods. The Trust receives funding from a wide range of government, NGO, multilateral and private donors


Project partner ERB: European Radio for Belarus is an independent radio station of a non-profit status registered in Poland, operated by Belarusian media professionals and supported by the group of international donors, including USAID, governments of Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic, Netherlands, as well as the European Commission. The goals of the station are to provide Belarusian population with independent, trustworthy, up-to-date information on current events in Belarus and abroad as well as to enable access of Belarusian audience to best examples of independent Belarusian and world culture. The target audience of the station is youth in the age of 15 – 35. The team of journalists, editors, producers and DJs in Poland and Belarus since 2006 is presenting daily 24-hour broadcasting to Belarus via FM, USW, Satellite and the Web. Recent sociological polls show that ERB has the highest number of audience among all external broadcasting projects.


Project Associate EHU: The European Humanities University (EHU) is a Belarusian university in exile based in Vilnius, Lithuania. Its mission is to prepare future leaders of society in an academic environment free of discrimination of any kind. EHU offers high quality liberal education and research on BA and MA levels in face to face or low residence study


Project Associate BISS: The Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS) was created by leading Belarusian experts, journalists, and public figures, to establish a platform for a dialogue inside the Belarusian analytical community and between the expert community, the society, and the international community. By promoting a dialogue, BISS aims to generate positive alternative scenarios of the political, economic, and social transformation of the country, and discover ways of enhancing competitiveness of Belarus and providing a better quality of life to the Belarusian citizens. BISS, through a variety of instruments, works with civil society to ensure its positive impact on the local economic and social developments in Belarus and increase accountability of the power structures to the citizens. BISS analysis are widely distributed and read both in Belarus and abroad. BISS is registered in Vilnius, Lithuania.



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Funders

- European Union
- United States Development Agency (USAID)
- Czech Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Partners





During the inception meeting in Vilnius the project consortium presented details of the project and its benefits to students and staff at the EHU

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