Media development organisations join forces to support public interest media in crisis

PRIMED is an unprecedented collaboration between media development organisations and local media partners in Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

PRESS RELEASE – For immediate release – 16 November 2020

BBC Media Action and its consortium partners are pleased to announce the launch of Protecting Independent Media for Effective Development, a three-year project to support public interest media essential to good governance and more informed societies. The project, worth up to £12 million, is to be carried out in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, and funded by UK Aid through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Public interest media are essential to democracy and to development: ensuring people have access to trusted information, and understand their rights and responsibilities and those of their leaders. Yet they have never been more under threat from political, legal and economic pressures.

PRIMED is an unprecedented collaboration between international media development organisations and local partners, focused on finding fresh solutions to sustaining public interest media in low income settings, and sharing learning from these findings to contribute to more impactful and targeted global approaches to media support.

The project will include editorial development, training and support that helps build resilience to political and economic pressures.

Led by BBC Media Action, core consortium partners are Article 19, Free Press Unlimited, International Media Support and the Media Development Investment Fund. Further support will be provided by DW Akademie, Global Forum for Media Development, Global Voices and The Communication Initiative.

The launch of the project coincides with the second Global Media Freedom Conference, co-hosted by Canada and Botswana.

Caroline Nursey, Chief Executive Officer of BBC Media Action, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a harsh toll on public interest media. Broadcasters who were already struggling amid dwindling advertising revenue and audiences’ changing media habits are on the verge of collapse. Many will not survive.

“Yet the pandemic has also reminded us of the critical importance of public interest media: providing trusted information that helps people to understand how to protect themselves and their families, connecting audiences with experts, dispelling harmful false information, and inspiring people to cope.

“Through PRIMED, BBC Media Action and our partners will provide editorial training, mentoring and structural support to help public interest media survive, while our research will contribute important learning for creating sustainable public interest media that can play their critical role in ensuring better governance and fairer, more inclusive societies.”

 Harlan Mandel, Chief Executive Officer of Media Development Investment Fund, said:

“Supporting the financial resilience of public service media outlets is a cornerstone of PRIMED. Financially robust media are better able to safeguard their editorial independence and provide the public with reliable, quality news and information.

“MDIF will provide mentoring, coaching and other training tailored to media needs, helping to build their capacity in areas such as revenue development, audience development and organisational management. Well-managed media can be much more effective and, by supporting outlets’ management capacity, PRIMED can help increase the impact of their public service journalism.”

Learn more about PRIMED, or contact BBCMA.Comms@bbc.co.uk.

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About BBC Media Action:

We are the BBC’s international charity, and we believe in the power of media and communication for good. We work in more than 20 countries supporting the independent media essential to democracy and development. Each year, our projects and programmes reach 100 million people facing poverty, inequality and insecurity with information they can trust, helping to improve health, bridge divides, challenge prejudice, and save and change lives.

We are not funded by the BBC TV Licence Fee and we rely on the valued support of our donors and partners to carry our work. To find out more, please see bbcmediaaction.org.