Promoting Citizens' Participation in Broadcasting: A Regional Workshop
The regional workshop on Citizens' Media: Promoting Citizens' Participation in Broadcasting was held on the 18th of April, 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, in cooperation with AIBD and WRTVC. The workshop reviewed the current situation, role and place of the listeners and viewers in the field of broadcasting as well as related issues such as quality of programming and accountability.
Several papers/case studies were presented by Mr. Javed Jabbar, chairman of the South Asian Media Commission and former Minister of Information and Broadcasting of Pakistan, Mr. A. Astraatmadja, Dr. Soetomo Press Institute, Indonesia, Ms. Kishali Pinto Jayawardene, The Law & Society Trust, Sri Lanka, Mr. Ian Morrison, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, Andrew Taussiq, chairman of the News World Asia, Mr. Steve Buckley, AMARC. Unfortunately Prof. Luis Teodoro from the Centre for Media's freedom and responsibility of the Philippines cancelled his participation at the last moment. On the basis of these papers the workshop identified principles /criteria for civil society participation and discussed how a dialogue between the civil society, broadcasters (particularly PSB) and authorities and their interaction can be established (where it does not exist) and improved - the need for public interest monitoring bodies in Asia such as citizens' associations of listeners and viewers and/or for citizens' media commissions.
Experiences in organizing citizens' participation in broadcasting and in operating citizens' media and citizens' media forums in Nepal, India, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, UK, Canada and other countries were noted with interest.
The participants called for ensuring the fundamental rights of freedom of expression; enhancing media independence and pluralism, promoting the free flow of information and cultural diversity; fostering dialogue between civil society and the media, as well as citizens' forums from across the region. They were of the opinion that there is a "need to build global media civil society coalition to balance the growth of global media and to facilitate dialogue".
The participants felt that a dynamic and mutually supportive relationship between the major stakeholders with regard to media i.e. broadcasters, the government, regulators, and the citizens, was necessary to enable the media to support democratic principles. The role and participation of a vital stakeholder - the citizens - was perceived as a weak link in this relationship.
Most of the recommendations proposed are quite relevant, such as strengthening the public service role of national broadcasters; recognition of citizens as stakeholders in the broadcast media and initiating and supporting processes for civil society groups to organize themselves; development of focal points for citizens' awareness and participation; independence and transparency in formation and functioning of citizens' organizations; setting up mechanisms to receive and respond swiftly to citizens' feedback; dissemination of best practices; training of citizens' groups in media literacy and monitoring.
The workshop endorsed the Bangkok Declaration, adopted by the Ministerial Conference in May 2003, while a report of the workshop's outputs was submitted to the Asian Media Summit on the 21st of April, 2004.
More information on the workshop can be found on <a href="http://www.thehoot.org/story.asp?storyid=Web210214207117Hoot55149%20PM1197&pn=1"><u>TheHoot.org website</u></a>
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