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Private news agencies condemn increasing government interference in media

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is an abridged 17 June 2008 IPI press release:

APNA Declaration, Belgrade, 17 June 2008

Following a meeting organized by the South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO) on June 17, 2008, in the context of the World Congress and Annual General Assembly of the International Press Institute (IPI), the Association of Private News Agencies (APNA) has adopted the following declaration demanding equal access to markets and sources of information in their countries:

APNA, a network of owners, directors and editors-in-chief of private news agencies, holds that direct government interference in the media sphere is leading to a worsening of the position of the media, and to an increase in pressures limiting the freedom of the media.

Member agencies of APNA conclude that the direct involvement of governments in the area of media and information has increased. During the IPI Congress in Belgrade, members of APNA discussed new instances of discrimination against private news agencies in certain countries. These developments threaten the freedom of access to information and the distribution of this information.

By continuing to finance state news agencies, governments persist in maintaining their monopoly on information, thus violating fundamental international and local constitutional rules that ensure basic democratic freedoms such as freedom of information, private property rights and the rights to entrepreneurship.

On the basis of these assessments the members of APNA call on:

1. Governments to allow equal and legally justified and guaranteed access to sources of information and to the market, based on the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as the norms of private property, entrepreneurship and free competition;

2. The European Commission, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and international journalistic organizations to appeal to governments and demand their adherence to these norms.

For the complete press release, see:

IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

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