Black Sea Public Service Broadcasting Cooperation born again in Ukraine

The Black Sea Public Service Broadcasting Cooperation has been relaunched, after an eight-year lapse, with a meeting in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, and a pledge to collaborate on regional issues and co-production. The group (comprised of members of the European Broadcasting Union and includes Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and Turkey) last met in 2004, also in Ukraine, in the regional city of Odessa.

The meeting on Sept. 20-21 was instigated by ERT World, the international Greek-language channel run by the country’s national broadcaster, Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, but at the invitation of Ukraine's public TV broadcaster, NTU. The broadcasters were motivated by a belief that, by combining forces, they can improve their coverage of both regional and global news, while producing entertainment content on a grander scale than any of these countries could afford on their own.

"United we will be in the position to face any difficulties and to overcome any problem," said Vassilis Costopoulos, Legal Director of ERT, at the meeting. “Joint actions allow for gradual achievement of goals that may have seemed at first sight too ambitious to be realized."

The group also discussed direct cooperation between the broadcasters on co-productions, radio bridges, archives and a news exchange.

The Black Sea region has a checkered history of cooperation on several fronts, with desire to move forward on issues of mutual interest often thwarted by historical tensions, particularly between Turkey and Greece. Overall progress has been made, notably with the launch in June 1992 by 11 countries in the region of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). This came into existence with a remit to foster interaction and harmony among the Member States, as well as to ensure peace, stability and prosperity.

Like the European Union, it was intended partly to put an end to centuries of conflict in the region, but never quite gathered the same momentum. Since then, two more countries of the region (in addition to Greece), Bulgaria and Rumania, have joined the EU itself. There is now a hope that cooperation in broadcasting can help bring the region closer together by extending media freedom.