Media tends to avoid negative or provide positive coverage of those institutions that gave them publicity funding, journalists and experts say according to Transparency International Lithuanian‘s study on EU publicity funding. Additionally, the study revealed that public relations agencies pressure the media not to criticize their clients.
The majority of respondents confirmed that current financing model influences media. However it is hardly possible to get information on exact financial flows to various media outlets because editorial rooms usually do not participate in procurement competitions directly but rather act as sub-contractors. Public Procurement Office does not filter information based on sub-contractor criteria.
Moreover not all public sector institutions evaluate the success of public procurements and do not know the added value of publicity campaigns that they funded.
“I wish media was more transparent and would start publishing their financial reports online. This could definitely bring more trust within society”, said the executive director of Transparency International Lithuania Sergejus Muravjovas.
The respondents said that it is not always clear why certain media is chosen to reach the target audience, especially when campaigns have to reach people in the regions. A number of procuring organizations are still using the circulation numbers for their criteria however this does not reveal the real amount of solded printed media.
Overall, more than 19 million EUR from the EU budget and more than 3 million EUR from Lithuanian budget will be allocated for publicity campaigns in Lithuania for the period of 2014-2020.
Considering the main risks TI Lithuania provides the following recommendations:
- To make information about sub-contractors available in the Public Procurement Office database;
- To ensure that every procurement for publicity campaigns are evaluated to clearly know its success;
The study consisted of semi-structured in-depth interviews with the employees of monitoring and procuring institutions, media, public relations agencies, independent researchers and journalists.
The study was conducted in cooperation with the Swedish Institute and the Swedish Embassy in Vilnius.
The study can be found here (in Lithuanian).