CFI assists public or private media organisations (TV, radio, print media, online media). The agency works alongside media organisations, together with members of civil society, to promote pluralistic and democratic news provision and to support the objectives of sustainable development.
Our role is to promote the development of the media in the countries of the South, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa, the Mediterranean and the Levant.
According to the definition of the United Nations, “good governance promotes equity, participation, pluralism, transparency, accountability and the rule of law, in a manner that is effective, efficient and enduring. The greatest threats to good governance come from corruption, violence and poverty, all of which undermine transparency, security, participation and fundamental freedoms."
“As we all know, infrastructure is not just a matter of roads, schools and power grids. It is equally a question of strengthening democratic governance and the rule of law. Without accountability, not only of the government to its people but of the people to each other, there is no hope for a viable democratic State" (Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, February 2009).
The multiple crises that shake the countries of the South (pandemics or political, economic, terrorist or even environmental crises) make it very difficult to believe that those countries are catching up economically. The academic Bertrand Badie thus describes the gap that is created between the geopolitical and strategic analyses put forward by the countries of the North and the extreme difficulty that the societies of the South have in solidifying the social links and the institutions of their countries. In this context, media constitutes one of the essential components of processes that are more global in nature and are built around educational, legislative and economic programmes Development aid policies must address the fragility of these “fragments of societies that arrive on the international scene", where they are thrown back and forth between influences of all kinds and lack the stability and hindsight to defend their national priorities. In this context, media constitutes one of the essential components of processes that are more global in nature and are built around educational, legislative and economic programmes.
These issues expressed by academics were taken into account by the United Nations when defining the post-2015 agenda for development. In December 2014, Article 78 of the synthesis report of the Secretary-General on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda cites freedom of press and access to information in the list of areas where action is required in order to strengthen the institutions of democratic governance. He reiterates what UNESCO has said: “the importance of promoting freedom of expression and universal access to knowledge and its preservation - including, among others, through free, pluralistic and independent media, both offline and online – as indispensable elements for flourishing democracies and to foster citizen participation must be reflected in the post-2015 development agenda".
In the global development process proposed by the United Nations, the media of the South, which has long been confined to a role of broadcasting information, is now recognised as a developmental factor in its respective countries. This paradigm shift places the international media cooperation agencies in the development aid sector and gives them the responsibility of embarking on structuring professionalisation programmes within the media of the South.
The paradigm shift which was sought by the international organisations at the point of transition to the post-Kyoto period, and which was intended to bring the development issues of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) together in a more global movement, is currently being negotiated around four priorities: economic, human/social, environmental and governance/peace and security. Even if media development is not intended to constitute an objective in its own right, the issues of pluralism, education, economic growth and ownership of environmental realities – issues that are disseminated through the media – put media in a multi-disciplinary position in the global movement that will structure the next two decades.
Even if the link between freedom of expression and its impact on development is still the subject of much debate, there is no longer any doubt that media cooperation is now considered to be a constituent part of governance programmes, as evidenced by the recent GovNet and OECD financing opened up for media projects.
The 2011 Busan Partnership for effective cooperation in support of development has made it possible to reorient the priorities and implementation arrangements for public development aid in order to avoid a situation in which the impact of international aid is weakened. Supported by 160 countries, it marks a turning point in the search for coherence between the expectations of the recipients and the objectives of the multilateral donors. This partnership clarifies four key principles:
The international community is seeking more effective development, the effects of which are measurable over time in terms of the autonomy and independence of the countries. These principles have marked a turning point in international public development aid, which, previously, was primarily governed by the rationale inherited from the policies of influence in the donor countries. In the years that followed Busan, several groups of previously isolated countries were thus formed in order to carry and defend common visions, which, at times, diverge from those of the traditional industrial powers.
The positive power of the media is based on the economic independence of media companies, the professionalism of journalists, pluralism of points of view and a well understood relationship with the public. This requirement of demonstrating its capabilities constitutes a prerequisite in so far as, in the countries of the South, state media propaganda remains a very real reality.
The notion of the positive role of the media must be analysed in medium-term evaluations of media cooperation projects in so far as training cannot, on its own, be regarded as a guarantee of pluralism. In an authoritarian environment, well-trained journalists can actually become weapons of propaganda that are even more formidable and effective. In a paroxysmal manner, the disastrous example of Radio Mille Collines showed, from 1992 onwards, the weight that a media manipulated by destructive interests could carry in paving the way for genocide. This is also demonstrated by the impact of the information that ISIS advocates are spreading via digital networks.
In response, media cooperation must support the creation of professional, diversified, competitive and stable audiovisual landscapes.
In response, media cooperation must support the creation of professional, diversified, competitive and stable audiovisual landscapes. This support contributes to the emergence of a civil society that can participate in governance processes and debate. Based on proximity, it involves networks of local and national operators. It is an aspiration that demands responses that are adapted to each country so as to take account of experience, the social, political and economic contexts as well as disparities in terms of, for example, access to electricity.
The contribution of the media in democratic governance processes takes on its full meaning when these multiple actors are added together to constitute diversified, representative and sustainable audiovisual landscapes. An optimal media system would be simultaneously composed of professional and long-term local media and pluralist national media, combined with a controlled gateway to international media. Beyond this diversity of operators, the issue is primarily one of diversity of the content. Even if information has a central place, the media is also a powerful vehicle of education, culture and entertainment, all of which are determinant factors in the stability and development of societies.
The issue of access to global information, and even to national information, is no longer the priority issue of media cooperation. This is because access, which is easier to gain than in the past, to an extensive range of information only partially meets the expectations of local analysis. Today, development projects concentrate on the needs of the actors from civil society, on cross-media initiatives and on the positioning of these actors in their environment. The cooperation agencies and the donors pay particular attention to these actions, which attempt, in time, to build bridges between the local, the national and the international levels.
The densification of this network creates a space for exchange between the collective (the State) and the citizens. The plurality of the media offer gives a place to the most deprived and enables them to assert their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and, in time, this contributes towards ensuring national cohesion.
In light of this issue, the digital revolution provides a formidable amount of potential for expression, but also accentuates the risk of abuse. When the traditional media of the State and the regulatory bodies are discredited, the population has no benchmark against which to differentiate information from stories on social networks. The latter are spontaneously perceived as a form of media associated with values of independence and freedom of speech.
Media cooperation deploys its know-how and experience so that the media actors in the South can play their social role of local development without forgetting that the media generates, by itself, economic activity of its own right. Even if it is relatively modest in size in relation to traditional development aid sectors (health, education, public infrastructures, agriculture), it does have a driving force that is not merely symbolic and political.
CThis force increases in depth when account is taken of the fact that several sectors are intrinsically linked to a media landscape that is embedded in the daily life of the country. Advertising thus depends, first and foremost, on the media and cannot exist without a media market organised around independent and competitive actors. Given the impact that advertising has on national consumption and therefore on the economy and employment, the sector assumes a cross-disciplinary and structuring position in the development of a country.
The professionalisation of the media is linked to the development of countries, both in terms of their objectives and in terms of their momentum. The actors directly or indirectly linked to the media are sometimes even driving forces behind seizing technological opportunities, for example. Faced with the inactivity of the leaders, the populations of the countries of the Arab Spring changed the field of battle by transforming social networks into media of resistance and revolution. Today, this experience obligates the traditional media to seek out the public that consults, exchanges or subscribes to these services that invent new models and economic balances.
The connection between this sector and telecommunications constitutes another example in Sub-Saharan Africa where mobile telephones have become established even before the deployment of fixed networks, which will never see the light of day there.
This sector is also at the heart of artistic creation in all its forms and it influences, more than anything else, the affirmation of the cultural identity of countries. This connection even constitutes a critical link in the modernisation of governance policies by enlarging the contribution that is left to civil society in all its diversity.
Media activities therefore influence development on two levels:
Despite a slowing of its budgetary efforts over the last several years, France remains a major player in worldwide public development aid. As recalled by the President of the Republic on 29 August 2017 at the Conference of Ambassadors, the budgetary difficulties are not jeopardising the “development priorities". President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed “the special effort to support the poorest countries" and “the importance of development in the fight against terrorism".
President Macron said :
"I have decided to bring the share of ODA to gross national income to 0,55% from now to 2022."
France still contributes nearly 10% of the overall base of worldwide public development aid funding, even while the latter is being fully reconstructed – as a result of a scissor effect between the budgetary constraints of the traditional donors and the increase in strength of contributions from emerging countries. In the media sector more specifically, the French contribution, even if it is decreasing considerably, remains sufficiently significant to influence certain priorities and working methods. Faced with the domination of the British and American operators, this voluntarism contributes towards preserving the visibility of French cooperation in several theatres, from Sub-Saharan Africa through South-East Asia to the Arab world and the Caucasus.
Instead of the counter-productive excessiveness of certain bilateral or multilateral interventions, which too often translates into a sudden surge of financial aid and training actions in narrow media sectors that are unable to absorb them and are left permanently destabilised, France chooses to implement projects of a manageable size that are developed together with the recipients. This choice involves a degree of operational complexity, but guarantees effective follow-up and a deeper understanding of the issues.
France possesses the world's second largest diplomatic network, which serves to increase the influence and cultural reach of our country. This network has made it possible to assert the French presence in most countries and build a relationship of trust in several sectors, including that of the media.
France possesses the world's second largest diplomatic network, which serves to increase the influence and cultural reach of our country.
Thus, 25 years ago, well before there was even talk of media cooperation, the French Ministry of Cooperation launched CFI, an agency that it initially charged with supporting the creation of the first television companies of several African countries. This policy was backed by a very dense network of technical assistants assigned to a large number of media organisations and by a major long-term initiative of training sessions, which were essentially entrusted to the French National Audiovisual Institute (Institut national de l'audiovisuel – INA).
This programme evolved and transformed into a network of around fifteen attachés and audiovisual correspondents in the countries or sub-regions of cooperation
The action taken by CFI, an operator of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, is governed by an annual convention that sets out its mandate and its intervention priorities.
This convention calls for CFI not to position itself in areas of commercial expertise in which other public and private actors are already present, but to focus on action pertaining to public development aid.
“Media and enterprise" tackles, from an economic angle, the work on the development of financial resources, competition management, media company organisation as well as the development of new sustainable economic models.
“Media and governance" encompasses everything that relates to the freedom of speech and the quality of information, the handling of political discourse, the diversity of media landscapes, and legislative frameworks.
“Media and development" addresses the place of the media in issues of development and the creation of innovative content so as to deal with these subjects in an interactive and pedagogical manner.
Each programme is described in a framework document that outlines the general context (situational analysis, expectations), the priority issues and CFI's area of intervention (projects launched/to be developed).
In any given period of time, professionals from around forty countries (Sub-Saharan Africa, the Mediterranean, Caucasus, Balkans and South-East Asia) are involved in around thirty projects that are ongoing, in preparation or under evaluation. The choice of the intervention countries and the recipients is based on two main criteria:
For the sake of transparency and coherence, each project is only based on a single programme, which is the one that meets the main objective set out with the recipient. That said, the problems of these three programmes are intertwined and interdependent and, in reality, are complementary facets of harmonious and sustainable development.
This is because financial resources alone do not make good journalists, in the same way that, without resources, journalists cannot apply, in the long term, the principles that they have learned. And the development of the sector requires the promotion of certain employees to posts of responsibility that are more structuring – career management that is only possible if the intermediary levels of management are put in place between the leaders and the core staff.
It is also necessary that the generalist media has the means to take risks in order to offer more complex content that can enrich public debate. These cases that are open to the difficult issues of development can only be produced by well-trained professionals in whom the broadcaster invests substantial means. The economics are at the heart of the decision-making process on whether to launch such initiatives that require the mobilisation of human resources, programming, economic viability and knowledge of the market. Only then will these productions eventually be able to contribute towards reinforcing the relationship of trust between the media and the public.
In other words, robust companies do not exist without well-trained human resources, and long-term opportunities for trained professionals do not exist without economically viable companies. Nor do incisive investigative reports exist without economic and political independence on the part of the media that will – or will not – broadcast them.
This statement of principles, adopted on May 14, 2020, provides a reminder of the core values that guide CFI in its actions and interactions with all its stakeholders, namely institutional stakeholders, partners, beneficiaries and experts from both the community of media professionals and civil society as a whole.
CFI is a media development agency that forms part of a community of organisations committed to promoting freedom of expression, press freedom, pluralism and media independence. It supports media organisations and civil society stakeholders based in the countries of the South that are committed to providing free, democratic and unbiased information, while also developing an awareness of sustainable development requirements.
Our agency operates in increasingly sensitive and fluid environments, which is why we believe it necessary to reaffirm its values.
This statement of principles provides a reminder of the core values that guide CFI in its actions and interactions with all its stakeholders, namely institutional stakeholders, partners, beneficiaries and experts from both the community of media professionals and civil society as a whole.
The actions undertaken by CFI are founded on shared values that stem from the principles enshrined in the
International Bill of Human Rights (the 1948 declaration and the covenants of 1966), the Munich Charter of 1971 (Declaration of the Duties and Rights of Journalists), all the declarations on aid effectiveness (the Paris Declaration of 2005 and the Busan Declaration of 2011), and the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015 and to be achieved by all United Nations member states by 2030.
These values are founded on the following seven principles and commitments:
1. CFI proclaims its strong attachment to the principles of respect for human dignity and non-discrimination, in all its forms. In fulfilling its missions, it strives to promote a spirit of tolerance and mutual understanding. It refrains from any cooperation with people or entities that foment hate and violence on the grounds of race, gender, religion, philosophical belief, sexual orientation or membership of a minority group.
2. CFI reaffirms its commitment to freedom of expression and a free press as fundamental freedoms that help lend a democratic balance to society. Inherent in the freedom to inform is the right to comment and criticise, in keeping with widely accepted ethical and moral rules.
3. CFI supports and defends the editorial independence of the media and promotes its pluralism as an indicator of diversity of content and opinions. This involves a commitment to support the media outlets that benefit from its actions with their digital transition, and to organise their digital presence and ensure their economic viability.
4. CFI is committed to strengthening public debate on key aspects of development, not least gender equality and environmental and health issues, by pursuing an inclusive approach and respecting cultural diversity.
5. CFI supports media organisations that produce and broadcast reliable information that is in the public interest. CFI encourages and promotes concerted actions by media and civil society organisations that enable the development of citizen control, which is seen as a means of increasing transparency and the monitoring of public action.
6. CFI engages in all its activities with the aim of achieving sustainability. In order to be effective, solutions created and implemented on a joint basis must be fully adopted by beneficiaries and partners.
7. CFI promotes a culture of interaction, dialogue and the sharing of best practice between the media community and all the actors with whom the community interacts, including regulatory bodies and public authorities.