Latin American Network Adds Pressure for Media Reform in the Region

Photo "Radio Towers" by Ben Cappellacci and licensed via Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)

For much of the past two years, CIMA, in collaboration with Deutsche Welle Akademie, has been fostering a global series of regional consultations that bring together civil society and media watchdog NGOs, broadcast regulators, academics, media industry representatives, government officials, and others in the media and development sectors to help diagnose the problems facing independent media.

The process has spawned additional action by other civil society organizations, which CIMA heartily welcomes. The most recent development in this area took place in Santiago, Chile, on October 5, when 15 organizations formed an alliance for diversity and pluralism in communications (Alianza por la Diversidad y el Pluralismo en la Comunicación). The fifteen organizations (listed at the end of this post) issued a six-point declaration calling on governments in the region to:

  1. Meet their obligations to guarantee and protect freedom of expression and adopt public policies in accordance to international standards of freedom of expression.
  2. Take steps to combat undue concentration of media ownership, be it private or state-run media.
  3. Adjust its regulatory framework and implement policies that guarantee pluralism and diversity, particularly by including non-profit media such as community radio, indigenous media, and public service media.
  4. Insure that state-owned media function as true public service media, with editorial independence and mechanisms for accountability and citizen participation.
  5. Recognize that the process of communications technology conversion and the transition to digital broadcasting presents an invaluable opportunity for institutions to take steps to assure a diversity of voices and to recalibrate the balance of media ownership to include private, commercial media, and community media from the perspective of human rights and freedom of expression.
  6. The declaration also calls on the special rapporteurs for freedom of expression at the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights and the United Nations to issue international standards for freedom of expression and concentration of media ownership.

The declaration was signed by Observatorio Latinoamericano de Regulación, Medios y convergencia (OBSERVACOM) , Colegio de Periodistas de ChileFundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP) de ColombiaArtículo 19 de BrasilCAinfo (Centro de Acceso a Archivos y Acceso a la Información) de UruguayAsociación para el Progreso de las Comunicaciones (APC)Asociación Mexicana de Derecho a la Información (AMEDI)Intervozes– Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação SocialInstituto Centroamericano de Estudios para la Democracia Social (DEMOS) de GuatemalaCivitas de GuatemalaAsociación de Radios Comunitarias y Medios Alternativos VOCES ParaguayFundación de la Comunicación para el Desarrollo (Comunicándonos) de El SalvadorRed de Medios e Iniciativas de Comunicación Alternativa de Costa Rica (RedMica)Foro por el Derecho a la Comunicación de Perú y Artículo 19 para México y Centroamérica

The declaration came after CIMA, along with nine partner organizations from Europe and Latin America, organized a conference in Bogotá, Colombia, in November 2015 and a follow-up meeting of legislators from 11 Latin American countries in August 2016. The next such regional meeting took place in Jakarta, Indonesia, as part of the Global Forum on Media Development (GFMD) World Forum this past September. CIMA hopes this more recent conference will similarly be a catalyst for further action in that region.

Don Podesta is a Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy. Previously he was the Manager and Editor at CIMA. He was born in Chile and raised in Colombia.

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