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MORE DIVERSITY NEEDED IN BROADCASTING, INTERNATIONAL GROUPS SAY

Four international bodies that have special mandates on free expression have issued a declaration calling for more diversity in the broadcast sector, reports ARTICLE 19, the body that brought them together.

The four special mandates on freedom of expression in the UN, OSCE, OAS and the ACHPR (African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights) declared that three types of diversity need to be advanced.

First is the diversity of outlets. There should be enough frequencies available for a range of broadcasting services, and they should be equitably allocated among commercial, public service and community broadcasters. The mandates also recommend that special measures are put in place to promote and protect public service and community broadcasting, and that the Internet remains unlicensed.

Second is the diversity of sources. Strong anti-monopoly measures should be applied transparently through active monitoring, and backed up by adequate enforcement powers. Those wishing to set up new media outlets should be supported.

Third is the diversity of content. Media output should vary. Policies should promote content diversity within and among media outlets, including for new media organisations offering fresh programming.

The joint declaration also makes a number of general points on promoting diversity, from making new and low-cost technologies widely accessible with a view to "bridging the digital divide", to realising that where regulatory tools are applied by bodies which lack independence from government or commercial interests, they are likely to be abused.

ARTICLE 19 first brought the special mandates on freedom of expression together in 1999 and they have issued a joint declaration every year since then. "The declarations provide important guidance to those wishing to understand international human rights standards," says ARTICLE 19.

The joint declaration is available at: http://tinyurl.com/23uel7

(18 December 2007)

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