24.11.2016 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

UNESCO Highlights Importance of Media Freedom as a factor of Economic Development at The International Forum of French Speaking Media in Madagascar

Opening of the 45th Assises de la Presse Francophone

According to the World Trends on Freedom of Expression and Media Development report, the weak economic position of the media industry in Africa continues to exacerbate the problems of self-censorship, widespread bribery and unprofessional journalism, as well as negatively impacting the sustainability and independence of media outlets.

It is in this regard that UNESCO participated in the 45th International Forum of the Union Internationale de la presse francophone to discuss Media Economics in developing countries from 20 to 24 November 2016 in Ansirabe, Madagscar. The event attracted the participation of more than 300 journalists including representatives from Reporters without Borders, the Moroccan High Authority of Audiovisual Communication (Haute autorité de la communication audiovisuelle), the president of the Niger Union de la Presse Francophone, media owners and representatives of international organizations.

At the opening of the forum, the President of the Republic of Madagascar, Mr. Hery Rajaonarimampianina stated that that "I am convinced that two words are important to preserve the nobility of your profession of journalist, ethics and deontology".

During the roundtable discussion, participants highlighted the importance of access and preservation of information and knowledge, freedom of expression as enshrined in Article XIX of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, respect for privacy and media ethics and its role as an agent for development in contributing towards the credit of the media.

The roundtable was one of 5 roundtable discussions and 6 panel discussions on media economics that discussed the importance of independence of the media vis a vis a changing media environment with new challenges and opportunities, especially in the use of new technologies. The challenges in finding lasting economic models that integrate public and private funding in a transparent and equitable way were also stressed. Participants also emphasized on the important role of media consumers in demanding quality and independent media that respect journalism ethics.

It was noted that it is imperative that media development initiatives be holistic in addressing issues raised during the forum and subsequent analysis carried out using UNESCO’s Media development indicators. UNESCO’s Media development indicators is a framework used for assessing media development from a legal and regulatory framework, the plurality and diversity of media, the media as a platform for democratic discourse, professional capacity building and infrastructural capacity.

At the end of the forum participants formulated proposals that will help journalists to project themselves to the future, building strong, viable and sustainable media and an improved social status of journalists.

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