Public Service Broadcasting at the heart of discussions at the Paris International Conference in Support of Tunisian and Egyptian Broadcast Media
A major international conference was held on Tuesday at UNESCO HQ to support the development of public service media in Tunisia and Egypt, in the presence of the new executives of Tunisian and Egyptian public television and radio.
Organized by UNESCO, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU*) and France Télévisions, with the support of the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) and the International Radio & Television Union (URTI), the conference brought together more than 200 delegates representing international institutions, professional organizations, donor countries, numerous major audiovisual media organizations, cooperation and development agencies, and civil society.
The Director General of UNESCO, Mrs Irina Bokova, opened the debates, underlining that the Organization, in all of its activities, "is guided by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which calls on Member States to respect 'the right to freedom of opinion and expression,' including the 'freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.'"
Mr Rémy Pflimlin, CEO of France Télévisions, Mr Jean-Paul Philippot, President of the EBU, Mr Slaheddine Maaoui, Director General of ASBU, and Mrs Rodi Kratsa, Vice-President of the European Parliament, also addressed participants during the opening session of the Conference, organized with a view to shedding light on the needs of Tunisia and Egypt in the broadcast media sector. High-level representatives of the Tunisian and Egyptian public television and radio summarized the challenges faced by the broadcast media in their countries in this critical transitional period and through their interventions, made clear their willingness to embrace the values of freedom of expression, pluralism and diversity, in order to become editorially independent public service media.
Participants discussed current and future media assistance activities in Tunisia and Egypt as well as ways of coordinating efforts in order to avoid duplication. Proposed activities focused on four main areas: (i) training, in particular for journalists to cover the upcoming elections in the two countries, and institutional capacity building; (ii) technical equipment to bring their resources into line with their new ambitions; (iii) international programme offers; and (iv) help in setting up a new legal framework with regard to media and establishing independent regulatory authorities.
EBU and the Spanish government officially announced that they would provide funds to support these efforts, indicating the amount of their contributions.
The preliminary results of the two rapid assessments of the media situation in Tunisia and in Egypt, launched by UNESCO in March based on its internationally recognized Media Development Indicators, were presented to the audience. These initial assessments will be followed by more in-depth and comprehensive assessments, financed by the Government of Belgium, that will help prioritize needs and develop a cost-efficient strategy for addressing them in the short-, medium- and long-term.
It is expected that these assessments as well as the final report of the Conference will make it possible to lay the foundations of long-term cooperation to promote freedom of expression and media pluralism in Tunisia and in Egypt while strengthening the professional and institutional capacities of the national broadcasters, with the final objective of establishing a truly independent public broadcasting service.