The UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jeremy Hunt, announced a package of GBP 18 million over three years to counter disinformation and fake news across Eastern Europe and strengthen independent media in the Western Balkans.
The funding from the British Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) will support freedom of expression and independent local voices in the Western Balkans to boost the creation of balanced, non-biased content.
This funding announcement comes days before the Global Conference for Media Freedom, the first of its kind, which will be co-hosted by Hunt and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.
“With only ten percent of the world’s population having access to a free media, fake news and disinformation continue to undermine and destabilize societies. This funding announcement will support journalists working in some of the most repressive societies and step up the attack against fake news. My aim for this conference is to work with my counterparts to agree a way to protect media freedom and impose a cost on those who abuse it”, said Hunt.
Delegations from over 100 countries and international organizations, 60 ministers, and more than 1,000 journalists, academics and campaigners will convene in London on Wednesday and Thursday, July 10 and 11, to take action to improve media freedom globally.
The funding for Eastern Europe and Central Asia is part of a GBP 100-million, 5-year commitment to counter disinformation and support independent media.
Meanwhile, according to the statement on the UK Government’s official web site, the funding for the Western Balkans “forms part of a package of measures, announced at the Western Balkans Summit, which demonstrate the UK Government’s enduring commitment to the region”.
“It plays a significant role in the delivery of the increased UK funding to the Western Balkans from GBP 41 million in 2018-19 to GBP 80 million in 2020-21”, the statement concludes.