CFI, the French cooperation agency under the auspices of the French Foreign Ministry (media), has just signed two major contracts (EUR 2.7 million) with the European Union for the development of projects to promote the expansion of the independent media in the Arab world.
The first contract, of two years, relates to a project for monitoring the development of independent players in the media in Syria, principally through the provision of training courses.
The total funding of EUR 1.5 million is jointly financed by CFI and the European Union (the latter contributing EUR 1.2 million). The global objective of the project is to prepare a new generation of Syrian journalists to be capable, immediately, of producing high-quality, professional information and, at a later date, constituting the very pillars of the media in the post-crisis phase.
As project leader, CFI has set up a consortium with Danish NGO International Media Support ( IMS), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Syrian journalists association (SJA), the "Al Shareh" Syrian journalists'/video directors' group and the Network of Female Syrian Journalists (NFSJ).
In April 2014, CFI will be inaugurating a media centre - the Syrian Media Incubator in Gaziantep, Turkey, 60 km from the Syrian border north of Aleppo. The aim of this collective working space is to provide modern telecommunication tools and to work alongside Syrian journalists focusing on continuing – whatever the cost – to relay news about their own country to the outside world.
Incidentally, in 2013, in partnership with IMS and RSF, CFI contributed to the creation of Radio Rozana, an independent Syrian radio station broadcasting from Paris and relying on a network of 30 correspondents based in Syria. In 2013, these correspondents attended a number of training courses organized by CFI.
The second contract signed with the European Union, for a duration of three years, will enable CFI to fund projects aimed at developing on-line news in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.
These projects are to be supported by the private or community-based media in these countries (newspapers, radio stations, TV, etc.) or by new independent on-line news media ("pure players"), selected for their innovative approach and high development potential. The beneficiaries will be chosen principally via a call for projects, the first of which is scheduled for publication in May 2014.
The grants offered by CFI within the context of this contract will amount to a maximum of EUR 80 000 per project.
The aim is to support a total of around thirty projects over the next three years.
In response to this call for proposals from the EU, CFI joined forces with France Expertise International ( FEI), Babelmed (Italy) and the Samir Kassir and Anna Lindh foundations (Lebanon and Egypt, respectively)
This instrument will form part of the
4M programme supporting on-line news stakeholders to encourage plurality in the media and diversity of editorial content.
Against a background of major upheaval in the Arab world, CFI is thus stepping up its efforts to assist the independent media which are being called upon to play a major role in the burgeoning democratic process.