To maintain independence, media outlets need to be financially sustainable. Through the Media for All programme, 55 outlets from across the Western Balkans have worked intensively with expert mentors from the Thomson Foundation to develop and implement their unique business ideas. 

As the outlets near the end of the 12-month programme which has included extensive bespoke training, mentoring and capacity building we look at the different approaches which have seen an increase in business opportunities and stronger connections with audiences. By creating new content and offering new services, the media outlets are becoming more attractive to advertisers:

  • Training in documentary making and storytelling, one outlet has produced a series of programmes looking at their region 
  • The first photo sharing platform has been established in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Audience figures have grown with new content and increased focus on social media to share stories
  • Improved marketing and sales techniques have increased the number of potential customers and readers

The British Council is working in partnership with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), Thomson Foundation and INTRAC (The International NGO Training and Research Centre) on the Media for All programme funded by the UK Government.

You can find out more about the activities of our Media for All grantees below or visit the Journalift website to learn more about our work across the region. 


RTSH Gjirokastra: Increased visibility through documentary series 

RTSH Gjirokastra is a local broadcaster in the south of Albania. As part of the Media for All project, they are producing documentaries on the socio-economic and cultural development of the region of Gjirokastra. So far, they have produced 4 out of 10 planed documentaries. The topics include youth, minority questions, women entrepreneurs, environment, and agro-tourism challenges and development of the region. 

Through the project, the team at RTSH Gjirokastra received training and mentoring to help them edit and produce videos and to learn storytelling and documentary production. The documentaries have been so popular that two have been requested by the station’s head office in Tirana to be broadcast nationally and there has been an increase in businesses wanting to advertise through the media outlet. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

First stock photo library in the country

Banja Luka based outlet have created the first photo sharing platform in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Known as stock photography, a wide range of images are made available, which can be used to illustrate different stories. The users pay a small fee to reproduce the image or they can be made available free of charge in return for a credit. 

The idea behind the photo stock library by eTrafika is that these images will be available for local media to use in their publications. 

“Part of the stock will be free to use and will function on the principle of photo exchange, while the other part will be available by subscription and will offer high quality photos from all areas - illustrations, portraits, landscapes, panoramas, events...,” Vanja Stokić said adding that so far, photographers have responded very positively to this new initiative.  

The team at eTrafika developed the idea for the photo exchange platform several years ago but were not able to create it until they received the necessary funding from the Media for All project. It can be difficult to determine the source and copyright owner of images as there is a belief that everything on the internet is free and open to use, so the creation of the stock library will help recompense photographers and illustrators when their work is reproduced in other publications.

Radio ZOS: Pillar of the local community 

Radio ZOS is a female- led radio and news portal operating in the small town of Tešanj.  They have developed deep connections with the local community since they started operating in 1997 but wanted to generate more income. 

Working with their mentor, Sanja Mitić, Associate professor at Department of Business and Management at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, they successfully implemented their business idea to establish a marketing agency. The aim is for it to serve as an intermediary between local companies and big advertising agencies, but they will also offer internet marketing services, develop promotional campaigns, and other marketing services.

Within the first two months of the project implementation Radio ZOS managed to obtain results that were planned for the first quarter. The secret for this success lies in their strong relationships with the local community.

“Radio ZOS is fully aware about the needs of the local companies from the region of Tešanj. Knowing this, they offered a clear set of services that are tailormade for the specificity of the local companies,” said Mitić.   


TV Prizreni: New formats increase audience size

TV Prizreni, a local broadcaster from the town of Prizren, has increased its viewing numbers, especially in rural numbers, through its Media for All business development grant. Previously, the outlet produced two stories per day on average but in the last six months their output is:

  • 181 TV news stories
  • 14 long stories
  • 30 live shows
  • 82 website articles 
  • One documentary. 

“We have doubled our products in terms of numbers, extended our coverage by reaching new geographical and social groups, and improved our internal capacities by attending different trainings,” said a spokesperson from TV Prizreni. Thought increasing the number of stories and the quality of the items produced, there has been an increase in viewers and followers on social media channels. The outlet, established in 1999, is among the oldest local media in Kosovo. It is hoped the increased circulation will attract more advertising from local businesses. 


RTV Teuta: significant audience increase by using social media to share news

Since the start of the Media for All project, Albanian speaking media, RTV Teuta, using their social media channels more effectively, has seen a significant increase in audience numbers. 

Facebook data shows the have increased the number of followers by 50%, whilst the page reach increased a staggering 184%. The reach of TV Teuta page on Instagram increased by an unbelievable 418%. They also have 1500 new subscribers on their YouTube channel. 

“Before the implementation of the project we didn’t have clear and strategic vision regarding our social media channels. Thanks to the close cooperation with the project experts, we managed to boost our visibility and attract more audience,” Lika said. 

North Macedonia

KumanovoNews: From local to regional outlet

KumanovoNews is a small online news portal that is becoming a regional outlet with the support from the Media for All programme. They now use multimedia journalism techniques, using text, images, sound, video clips and graphics to tell stories in an engaging way. The stories are now also shared on social media as well as their website. They have increased daily readership by 25 % compared to the period before intervention. 

Since March 2021 they have been working with mentors from the Thomson Foundation, an independent charitable organisation that trains journalists around the world, to develop their business ideas. Kumanovo News now has a new website and equipment, has hired new staff and has a network of correspondents across the region. The mentors also helped them develop a content and marketing strategy to expand their coverage and reach new audiences. 

The outlet is now producing multimedia content on significant topics and events from the North East region of North Macedonia. Since March 2021, KumanovoNews has produced around 1.000 short news, 1.060 photos, six multimedia video stories, and illustrated six stories with infographics and graphics. Some of these stories were also republished in national media outlets. 


021: Developing a client and user database to communicate better with existing and potential customers

021, is a multiplatform outlet based in Novi Sad, established 23 years ago. It consists of a radio and web portal, as main channels of communication, and a café named Radio Cafe, a side business established to support the outlet's independence with its non-core business revenue. 

Working with mentors from the Thomson Foundation, 021, developed a database of business clients. With this new software, the list of potential clients has doubled and the sales and marketing strategies are more effective as they have a better understanding of the needs and interests of their audiences.  

As well as a business development grant, 021 have used the Engaged Citizens Reporting tool from the Media for All programme. This online questionnaire gives citizens the opportunity to suggest topics, provide documents and testimonials. By asking the local community about issues such as logging and illegal landfill sites, the outlet is involving their audience. They are acting as a communication channel between citizens and local authorities which is proving to be very effective in addressing different concerns. 

Családi Kör: Bigger circulation through discount coupons

Hungarian language weekly Családi Kör has introduced money saving coupons in a supplement that is issued every three months. The aim is to increase paid circulation and attract new advertisers to increase their income but also to further develop contact with their audiences.

Journalift reports that since the first supplement was published in August, sales increased by 14% and circulation overall was 4% higher. The outlet has also received positive feedback from stores offering the discounts.