International conference in Samarkand focuses on media legislation
More than 40 international and local experts gathered in Samarkand, Uzbekistan last week to discuss media legislation in the country. Based on international recommendations, the new media laws on TV broadcasting and transparency of state institutions are important steps towards the creation of a legal environment favourable to freedom of expression and information.
The International Conference on TV Broadcasting in Uzbekistan was organized on 23 and 24 October in Samarkand by the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis (Uzbek Parliament), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Uzbek National Association of Electronic Media and National TV and Radio Company, with support from UNESCO.
In her opening address, Ms Krista Pikkat, from UNESCO’s Tashkent Office, highlighted the importance of freedom of expression and press freedom for dialogue, democracy and development, as well as the vital role of independent and pluralistic media in this regard.
Speaking about UNESCO’s technical advice provided in the framework of the development of the new media laws of Uzbekistan, Ms Pikkat welcomed the the conference as an “important milestone in the harmonization of national laws with international standards, in making sure that Uzbekistan has a clear and specific legislative framework in place that allows the media to exercise its crucial democratic functions”.
Ms Pikkat added that UNESCO is pleased to participate in this process.
The draft new media law on TV broadcasting was reviewed and widely discussed at the first conference session, and recommendations for its further improvement against international legal standards were sounded in presence of the member of Oliy Majlis responsible for the development of this law.
Experts praised the national initiative to develop a new media law based on international recommendations as an important step towards the creation of a legal environment conducive to freedom of expression and information.
While they considered the participation of media NGOs and civil society organizations alongside governmental institutions as an example of inclusive law-making, they recommended the involvement of the academic sector in further deliberations. Experts also suggested using clearly defined terms and articles in the new law to avoid ambiguity, while also noting that overregulation can become an obstacle, as witnessed in many laws around the world.
Participants welcomed another new law in the pipeline, on the transparency of state institutions to the mass-media, as another effective legal instrument to exercise the right to access information, which is judged to improve good governance and civil society participation in decision-making.
Issues related to digital TV and radio broadcasting, and to the development of new technologies in this area, were also discussed at the conference. The capacity of media professionals is constantly challenged by rapidly advancing technologies. Participants, therefore, recommended to concerned governmental institutions to continue pre- and in-service journalism education and training using leading international tools.
Uzbek government officials recognized UNESCO’s experience and knowledge in media education. Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers and Model Curricula for Journalism Education were highlighted as effective tools for the advancement of journalism excellence.
For their part, UNESCO representatives reiterated the Organization’s commitment to continue providing technical advice for the development of legislative frameworks conducive to freedom of expression and information.