03.12.2015 - UNESCO Montevideo Office

There is a demand for a “Free and independent media in plural and diverse media systems”

The event titled, “Free and independent media in plural and diverse media systems” took place in Bogota, Colombia from the 18th – 19th November 2015 was participated by widely acclaimed journalists, academics, managers and media representatives from more than 25 countries in the Americas and Europe. The event took place to address the global challenges towards freedom of expression, specifically highlighting the need for more transparent and pluralistic media with economic and political viability.

The activity was organized by UNESCO, the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the National Television Authority of Colombia (ANTV) with the support of the Latin American media watchdog OBSERVACOM, the Deutsche Welle, the Platform of Regulators of the Iberoamerican Audiovisual (PRAI), CIMA, the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Latin American Journalism (FNPI), the the French Cooperation Regional Office for South America, the Swedish Government, the Global Forum for Media Development and the Latin America Development Bank.

All of the partners agreed that all actors from the public and private sector need to be involved in the decisions taken on how to deal with the abovementioned challenges and emphasized the importance of building international standards on freedom of expression and media pluralism and the safety of journalists. Nevertheless, there still lots of work to be done in researching the subject to allow for a more effective and positive decision-making.

The need to ensure sustainable financially resources regulated by independent regulatory bodies was also discussed during the event. UNESCO Montevideo, Communication and Information Advisor, Guilherme Canela presented a draft document on media sustainability indicators, to be discussed and complimented by relevant stakeholders.

Petra Berner from the Deutsche Welle Akademie, said, "economic sustainability is central to editorial independence". It was agreed that there should be more ways of discussing funding for community media and that there should be a solidarity relationship with private media companies that also discuss ensuring the sustainability and viability of the media.

The concentration of the media was also the subject of discussions and debates. John Barata from the European Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) said, "digitization is an opportunity to promote pluralism and freedom of expression, obtaining more resources will not guarantee plurality, they may be in few hands or controlled by governments.”

In Latin America, where "the rate of media concentration is probably the highest in the world," as stated by Toby Mendel from the Canadian Law and Democracy organization, this discussion should also be wagered towards community media, and generate a plural media ecosystem, where dialogue and cooperation prevail over competition.

Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS, Edison Lanza, also expressed the importance of building free and pluralistic media systems. He said "It is not justifiable for any actor or sector to monopolize anything whether it is private or public, or analog or digital".

Finally, the participants emphasized that regulatory bodies or systems that seek transparency and plurality in the media should also form part of the dialogue, healthy debates and the pursuit of common goals between public, private and community media.

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