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Support for independent Arab media: CFI, operator of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, strengthens its position (January 2014)

Canal France International (CFI), the French cooperation agency and media operator of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently signed two substantial contracts (worth €2.7million) with the European Union to develop projects in support of independent media in the Arab world.

The first is a two-year contract concerning a project to further the development of independent media in Syria, mainly by providing training.

The project will receive funding of €1.5million, including €1.2million from the European Union (EU). The overall goal is to enable a new generation of Syrian journalists to produce high-quality, professional information today and to become pillars of the post-crisis media in the future.

In April2014, CFI will open a media centre, the Syrian Media Incubator, in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, 60km from the Syrian border, to the north of Aleppo. This collective workspace aims to provide modern telecommunication tools and support Syrian journalists who are determined to continue relaying news from their country, whatever the cost.

As a reminder, CFI already works in partnership with International Media Support (IMS) and Reporters sans frontières (RSF), and, in particular, helped in2013 to set up an independent Syrian radio station called Radio Rozana, which broadcasts from Paris and relies on a network of 30correspondents based in Syria. CFI provided several training sessions for these correspondents in2013.

In2013, CFI carried out 21projects to train 120Syrian journalists and citizen journalists.

The second contract signed with the EU will enable CFI, over a period of three years, to fund projects seeking to develop online information services in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.

These projects are to be led by private or voluntary media services in the countries concerned (newspapers, radio stations, television) or by new independent online information services (“pure play” providers), which are innovative and show strong potential for development. The beneficiaries will mainly be selected through calls for applications, the first of which will be launched in May2014. The funding distributed by CFI under this contract may be as much as €80,000per project. The scheme should provide support for around 30projects over the next three years.

In this way, as the Arab world continues to evolve rapidly, CFI is redoubling its efforts to support the independent media that is destined to play a major part in the fragile processes of democratisation taking place.


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