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World TV Day: A powerful medium for change

Television has the power to spread the truth, help ensure fair elections and expose corruption and crime. With more than 5 billion viewers worldwide, its reach and impact is enormous.

MDIF has worked with many independent TV companies for more than 20 years in countries ranging from Indonesia to Bosnia Herzegovina. To mark World Television Day, we’re highlighting a few examples of the impactful work done by some of our TV clients.

RTV21: False benefits claims

RTV21 is an independent broadcaster in Kosovo founded in 1998, now also broadcasting in Macedonia, with 24-hour radio and TV channels. Rising out of the war in the former Yugoslavia, it has grown to become one of the leading quality broadcasters in the region.

RTV21 has consistently exposed corruption and crime in Kosovo, with countless stories in its 24-year history impacting on the lives of citizens and contributing to better government. For example, its reporting on access to welfare benefits exposed a massive abuse of public funds by war veterans. An RTV21 investigation revealed that a list of Kosovo Liberation Army veterans active during the Kosovo War had been seriously inflated by those wanting to get access to benefits, including a pension, free health services and priority for social housing. Following the report, the Special Prosecutor filed an indictment against a group of veterans claiming that, overall, falsely registered claimants caused damage to the state budget of more than €68 million since the list was established.

TV Vijesti: Exposing local corruption

TV Vijesti is the most popular and most trusted TV station in Montenegro, focusing on political coverage and government abuse of power. Founded in 2008, it grew out of the Daily Vijesti newspaper.

Over its 14-year existence, TV Vijesti has exposed many cases of both large- and small-scale wrongdoing – and sometimes holding people to account at the local level can have national ramifications. For example, TV Vijesti brought to national attention an issue of low-level corruption when it broadcast a video showing two officials from the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism asking for and accepting bribes in a building permit process in the town of Budva. In the video, the inspectors are heard demanding a kickback from a businessman who wants to continue construction of a building, despite the expiration of his permit. The filmed encounter suggests the Ministry inspectors are given 5,000 euros. Having failed to prevent this type of corrupt behaviour within the Ministry, Montenegro’s Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism resigned after the video was released. This was the first case of a government minister resigning due to corruption in a state institution. A day later, the two inspectors were arrested after a new procedure against them was initiated.

Malaysiakini: Supporting fair elections

Launched in 1999, Malaysiakini is a trailblazing digital news site that focuses on Malaysian politics. It is the country’s leading online source for independent news and played a pivotal role in the landmark 2008, 2013 and 2018 elections. In addition to its award-winning online news portal, it also runs internet TV news site KiniTV.

In a historic election in 2018, Malaysians voted out the Nasional Barasan regime after 61 years in power. Paving the way for the momentous democratic transition was Malaysiakini. For two decades, the independent news site, supported for many years by KiniTV, tirelessly shone the light of truth on Malaysia’s shady politics, despite being raided by police and dragged to court numerous times. Although regulators tried to block access, more than 17 million people – almost 4/5 of the entire adult population of the country – used Malaysiakini or KiniTV to track the election results on polling day. After several tumultuous hours, Malaysiakini was the first outlet to conclusively call the election for the opposition. A week after the elections, on his release from prison, jailed opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim specifically thanked Malaysiakini for its dedicated and uncompromising journalism.

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