Otvoreno Airs Fifth Season Independent of U.S. Assistance

Thursday, February 21, 2019
A picture from Otvoreno, season 2 episode 3, featuring Nikola Spasov from Rating Agency, political analyst Vladimir Bozhinovksi, Petrit Sarachini former journalist with Macedonian Institute of Media, and Tatjana Loparksi from Element PR Marketing Agency
TV 24 News

 

“Initially, it wasn’t easy to get politicians to participate in debate shows. I’d like to think, we helped change that in North Macedonia. By the time we started airing season three, it was more common for politicians to come on debate shows and present their points of view, and take audience questions”.

If you turn on the television in North Macedonia and flip to a news channel, odds are you will come across a debate show featuring a local politician or a civil society representative expounding their views on the latest issue. But that was not the case back in 2015, when Otvoreno began as the first ever debate show with a live studio audience. Otvoreno, a popular Macedonian political debate show, recently launched its fifth season.  

Otvoreno was envisoned at a time when media freedom was downgraded from Partly Free to Not Free by Freedom House, and most private media outlets were tied to political or business interests that influenced their content.  State-owned media tended to be pro-government, and Reporters Without Borders considered state control over the media in North Macedonia without parallel in the Balkans.  Given the lack of independent reporting and objective information available to the public, Otvoreno was a platform for providing diverse opinions and views to the public. It was the first to introduce a live audience format and enable audience interaction with guests at the studio. It was also the first to give air-time to civic groups and ordinary citizens to express dissent and showcase the challenges faced by socially and economically marginalized groups. During a politically turbulent time in the country, citizens could turn to Otvoreno to hear opposing views on a topic, send in tough questions for studio guests to answer on live television, and make their voices heard. Each episode garnered an average of over 50,000 views on television and up to 90,000 on social media channels during the country’s political crisis.

Recognizing the need to highlight regional and local issues, the show began taping live debate shows in cities outside the capital city of Skopje. Ahead of local elections in October 2017, the debates featured mayoral candidates from across the political spectrum answering citizen questions on live television. Mladen Cadikoski, the host of Otvoreno, is proud of what they do to hold political candidates accountable to their constituents. “Initially, it wasn’t easy to get politicians to participate in debate shows. I’d like to think, we helped change that in North Macedonia. By the time we started airing season three, it was more common for politicians to come on debate shows and present their points of view, and take audience questions,” said Cadikoski.

In addition to featuring political debates, the show also highlights social and economic hardships faced by marginalized groups. And the publicity has led to action by the authorities. One such episode featured Enver Jusufovski, a homeless person from the city of Ohrid, who was seeking state-assistance with housing. Soon after the episode aired, citizens from across the country reached out to offer help; additionally local government institutions walked him through the application process of applying for a state-provided apartment.  

Otvoreno’s seasons one and two were fully funded by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy  and conceptualized with the assistance of National Democratic Institute to launch a platform for public discourse. Public demand and the steady success of the show resulted in blended funding for season three and by season four, U.S. assistance transitioned from financial to technical expertise and advice. The show has maintained its standards of integrity and professionalism, expanded the number of shows in each season, and remains among the most watched debate shows on TV 24 since season one. “I’m really proud to say that season five has been produced and aired entirely independent of U.S. assistance. We are fully funded by TV 24,” added Cadikoski.   

Last updated: May 03, 2019

Share This Page