More than 300 media professionals from over 50 countries met in Paris this week for the first Asia-Pacific and Europe Media Dialogue. Their aim was to promote cultural diversity, tolerance and peace by airing differences, sharing best practices and reinforcing common values.
Opened at UNESCO headquarters on the 5th anniversary of the 11 September attacks, the meeting took as its premise that media can play a vital role in securing social understanding and cohesion at a time of technological revolution and global tension.
Organisers were the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD), Kuala Lumpur, and the Geneva-based European Broadcasting Union (EBU), in partnership with UNESCO, the French Foreign Ministry and a number of French broadcasters. Supporters included RAI, the Italian public broadcaster, the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, and a number of French broadcasters and government agencies. The EBU is the association of Europe’s public service broadcasters, and operator of Eurovision and Euroradio.
Three days of panel discussions addressed such topics as media and cultural diversity, media control and freedom of expression, new media for an equitable knowledge society, the resurgence of radio, dialogue between civilizations, and the safety of journalists.
Speakers from Asia and Europe alike stressed the key role of public service broadcasting in sustaining cultural diversity and pluralism in the digital age. They appealed for copyright legislation that will unlock cultural treasures from broadcasters’ archives.
Several participants also called on broadcasters to harness new technologies to create a more transparent and accountable system of governance. They expressed confidence that better dissemination of information could promote attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing world poverty by half by 2020.
AIBD Director Javad Mottaghi, alluding to current world conflicts, appealed for the “power of logic” to supplant the “logic of power”. He urged broadcasters, governments and international agencies to support programmes aimed at raising journalistic standards.
EBU Secretary General and conference chairman Jean Réveillon called on the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution reminding UN Member States of their duty to ensure the safety of journalists and to prosecute all those responsible for murdering journalists in the pursuit of their profession.
Prominent speakers at the Dialogue included Chinese vice minister Tian Jin; Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations, and EBU Vice-Presidents John Bernander, director general of NRK Norway, and Boris Bergant of RTVSLO, Slovenia.
The second Asia-Pacific and Europe Media Dialogue will be held in Bonn on 3-5 September 2007 at the invitation of Deutsche Welle.