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MEAA welcomes new press freedom network, launch of Right to Know campaign in context of "marked erosion of free speech"

(MEAA/IFEX) - The following is 11 May 2007 MEAA media release:

Alliance Applauds Press Freedom Group

The Media Alliance welcomes the formation of a cross-industry press freedom network as an important step in reclaiming the independence and freedom of the Australian press.

The launch of the Australia's Right to Know campaign follows years of concerted campaigning on press freedom issues by the Alliance, and a series of annual reports detailing the deterioration of press freedom in Australia.

Official Spin, the latest press freedom report, reflects a marked erosion of free speech in the past twelve months, with two journalists and a public servant facing jail for allegedly exposing secret government information, and the High Court upholding ministerial discretion to refuse FoI requests.

"Australia's media continues to be muzzled by the authoritarian actions of government and an anti-disclosure culture determined to manage and control information," said Alliance federal secretary, Christopher Warren.

"This initiative represents an important step in affirming the independence, integrity and democratic freedom of the press.

"These are issues which require united action and vigilance, drawing upon the breadth of experience and perspective across the industry," said Warren.

The Australia's Right to Know Campaign brings together all Australia's major news organisations - News Limited, Fairfax Media, ABC, SBS, AAP, Sky News, FreeTV Australia and Commercial Radio Australia - to examine and lobby on press freedom issues.

To mark World Press Freedom day, the Alliance recently launched a Press Freedom Committee of leading journalists and media practitioners, comprising representatives from all the major news organisations and from every state.

"The Alliance has long been committed to the cause of press freedom, and we look forward to working in partnership with this new group to continue the fight for a free and fearless Australian press," Warren said.

The Media Alliance represents more than 10,000 journalists across Australia.

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