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The Movement launches the creation of the World Charter of Free Media

segunda-feira 27 de maio de 2013, por Bia Barbosa, Bia Barbosa Bia Barbosa

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The initiative was approved during the third edition of the World Forum of Free Media, held in Tunisia. The document seeks to bring together the most diverse actors within this sector, around the fundamental principles to exercise the right to communication and freedom of expression, around the world. (Translation from Spanish - Tomasina Contu)

This week took place the launch of the creation process of the World Charter of Free Media at international level. The initiative, approved during the third edition of the World Forum of Free Media (WFFM) - as part of the activities of the World Social Forum 2013 in Tunisia - seeks to bring together the most diverse actors in this sector, on the fundamental principles and rights to free communication in different countries. The goal is to create a reference document for the joint mediums and activists in this field, which can be used to assess the media situation over time and to compare it with the reality of other countries. The Charter will also be a strategic platform for joint actions of movements and organizations fighting for media democratisation throughout the world.

"Since the year 2009, when the first World Forum of Free Media took place in Belem, the communication movement has been growing internationally. The creation of this Charter will be an opportunity for gathering and articulating both actors and militants of free media in different countries and discuss the challenges to be met in order to ensure freedom of expression," says Marion Bachelet, from E-joussour, which is the civil society’s portal in the Maghreb-Mashriq’s region (North Africa and Middle East).

For Mohamed Legotas, also from E-jossour, the Charter should be an instrument for the movement’s mobilisation, furthermore the World Forum of Free Media could become the meeting place for those who wish to adhere to this Charter.

It is not a small challenge. The very definition of "free media" encompasses a large multitude of media, community radios and TV stations associated with blogs, sites and alternative publications, possibly even through public media. In the free media sector are also included journalists, communicators, edu-communicators, bloggers,
video producers and developers of free technologies involved in building alternatives to communication models that are monopolised or controlled by economic powers.

"What they all have in common is the effort for transformation and social justice", explains Ms. Diana Senghor from Senegal, representing Panos Institute of West Africa. "But as there are plenty initiatives unaware of each other, the World Charter of Free Media can be an instrument for geographically articulating different types of media for different types of strategies," she says.

Finally, the document may also contribute to social and popular movements, which are part of the World Social Forum process, so that they understand that the struggle for free media is a central challenge in the struggle for another globalisation, not only as an instrument of communication but as a right in itself.

Whirlwind of principles

The activity promoted in the III WFFM in Tunisia was the kick-start for the creation of the World Charter of Free Media. In Tunisia, the participants put forward the first ideas of the fundamental principles and rights to entitlement to be included in the document.

One of them is the recognition of the communication as a right and the recognition of pluralistic information as a basis for the formation of truly democratic societies and for a critical and independent public opinion. In the same vein, another right to entitlement in the Charter is the reaffirmation of social movements as essential informers to broaden the diversity of messages circulating within our civil society.

Another issue mentioned in the debate was the importance of a democratic regulation to curb the concentration of media ownership and the development of public policies on communication with popular participation. It was also stressed the strategic aspect of universal access to new information and communication technologies, such as the Internet, which in a scenario of technological convergence, should remain free from purely economic interests. In the same way, it was reaffirmed the need to create an economic model for free media, independent from market powers and not dominated by audience dictatorship nor advertising.

Faced with threats by political and economic authorities and with repression by authoritarian governments, the participants of the WFFM also stressed the need to ensure the protection of journalists, bloggers and popular communicators during the exercise of their activities. At the same time it was also highlighted the importance of media education and the decolonisation of knowledge production.

"At the same time, it will be a comprehensive and objective document; we will work on it during this year and it will be ratified at the next edition of the World Forum of Free Media, in 2012 ", explained Danielle Moreau, president of the French NGO Ritimo. In order to develop the first draft of the Charter, an international working group will be created, which will involve the participation of the Brazilian organisations Intervozes and Ciranda. In August, the first draft of the document will be placed on the Internet for public consultation in five languages, in order to receive any text contributions such addenda, modifications and deletions.

At the end of the year a new draft will be made available to collect initial adhesions, with a view to its launch in the first half of 2014. Next edition of the WFFM, in addition to launching the Charter, will have to discuss strategies for the appropriation of the document by free media’s social movements and actors, and for its use to defend the
right to communication in different countries, in conjunction with civil societies and governmental and multilateral agencies, like the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Tunisia Declaration

Along with launching the creation process of the World Charter of Free Media, the organising committee of the III WFFM distributed this week the final declaration of Tunisia, adopted by the Convergence Assembly for the right to Communication of the World Social Forum 2013. The document points out - among other things - the importance of free media in the struggle for Tunisia’s social transformation and the
importance of community radios in the African countries to exercise their freedom of expression.

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