UNESCO's Brasilia Office launches new media development projects
The UNESCO Office in Brasilia is launching a series of projects aiming at encouraging and deepening the debate on media development in Brazil. The new projects will include activities promoting research, the organization of workshops and seminars, and the publication of documents. Internationally renowned experts will attend field events in the framework of these projects.
The changes brought about by digitalization and media convergence have increased the debate about the most effective legal frameworks to organize "media ecosystems". The importance of the media for the development of contemporary democratic societies is an international consensus, as well as its role as an agent of change. Such change compels governments around the world to develop specific policies and Brazil is part of this movement.
UNESCO considers important that Brazil consolidates its regulatory framework and enhances public communication policies to match international standards. The country also has a huge agenda to fulfill in order to strengthen public and community media. Another challenge for Brazil is to work on the fundamental concepts of diversity, plurality and balance in the communication system. The convergence of media adds new challenges to this already complex scenario.
Unlike other democracies, part of the problems diagnosed in the Brazilian media is a consequence of the lack of an updated and consistent regulatory body of laws. In order to attend to this issue a new project, supported by the Ford Foundation, was launched last January. It is entitled "Legal Framework for Communications in Brazil: An Analysis of the System in the Light of International Experience".
This project aims at fostering the regulation for public policy communications through a comparative analysis between Brazil and ten other democracies (Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Jamaica, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States), using international indicators agreed upon by UNESCO as parameters. In order to do that, two international consultants have been recruited: Toby Mendel, from Canada, and Eve Salomon, from England. From the end of August the two experts will be in Brazil for a series of workshops with the most relevant stakeholders.
Toby Mendel is the Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy, a Canadian civil society organization specialized in consultancy in the field of international law on democratic rights. Eve Salomon is an expert on media regulation, a member of the Press Complaints Commission (self-regulatory body of the British press) and the UK's Internet Watch Foundation (an agency to combat child sexual exploitation on the Internet).
The two consultants have the task to gather international data and compare them with the information collected in Brazil by a team currently working for UNESCO. The data collection will be made by various mechanisms, such as a compilation of laws and reports and interviews with members of regulatory agencies involved directly or indirectly with communication. Once they have the data, the consultants will produce studies that describe the relevant international regulatory standards for the Brazilian reality and identify key points for a legal reform. The results of these studies will be presented in an international seminar to be held in Brasilia in the second half of 2010.
The translation into Portuguese of <a href="ev.php?URL_ID=26032&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201">Media Development Indicators</a> is another project, which is being implemented by UNESCO's Brasilia Office. This document was approved in 2008 by the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) of UNESCO. It is the result of an intense work by a team of experts from intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, universities and professional associations from various regions of the world. The Portuguese version of Indicators will be officially released on 23 June on the Public Hearing on the Human Rights Committee of the Brazilian House of Representatives.
The UNESCO Office in Brasilia also intends to launch a study on the decisions of the superior courts in Brazil regarding freedom of expression and press freedom, as well as to promote a discussion on methods of accountability of public media in the country.
With these new projects, UNESCO hopes to ensure that Brazil can take part in the international agenda of media development, implementing key actions to promote the free flow of ideas, which is one of the fundamental strategic objectives of the Organization.