Spending on Media Legal Environments Examined

19 March 2012

Spending by four major U.S. funders to create a more enabling legal environment for the media worldwide is declining in proportion to overall spending on media training, according to a forthcoming report by the Center for International Media Assistance.

The findings were previewed by CIMA’s Senior Director Marguerite Sullivan on March 16 at a National Freedom of Information Day event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.  The legal environment category includes funding for FOI-related training and advocacy, among other things.

Because overall spending on media training has increased, the amounts allocated to improving the legal environment have remained roughly the same, at $5.4 million in 2010 compared with $5.4 million in 2006.

However, as a percentage of the four budgets studied, resources for work on legal environment issues have fallen from 9.2 percent to 5.4 percent, the study will show.

Sullivan called this finding “very troubling.” She explained, “We can train journalists to death, but unless the systems of laws and legal processes exist to support freedom of expression and freedom of information, we will never get to where we want to go.”

The data is from IREX, Internews, the International Center for Journalists and the National Endowment for Democracy. Their overall media development funding efforts have increased from $60 million in 2006 to nearly $100 million in 2011, according to the research.

The four funders together in 2006 represented about 40 percent of total funding for media development and about 45 percent in 2011 were 2011. Funding from other sources could boost, or decrease, the percentage going for efforts to improve the legal environment. Sullivan also noted that measurement is difficult because funders do not uniformly categorize their projects and some work on legal environments may be part of larger civil society capacity building projects.

Sullivan spoke at a conference for National Freedom of Information Day at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

CIMA, part of the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, “works to strengthen the support, raise the visibility, and improve the effectiveness of independent media development throughout the world. The Center provides information, builds networks, conducts research, and highlights the indispensable role independent media play in the creation and development of sustainable democracies.”

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