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Communication and Information Sector's news service

UNESCO Conference on public services in the media this week in Lisbon

24-10-2005 (Paris)
"Promoting Public Services in the Media: Human Rights, Tolerance, Multilingualism and the Fight against Discrimination" is the subject of a UNESCO sponsored conference at which media experts meet this week in Lisbon, Portugal.
The Conference, that takes place from 26 to 28 October, is organized jointly by UNESCO and the National Commission of Portugal for UNESCO, with the cooperation of the Portuguese Institute of Social Communication (ICS).

The event, to be held at the ICS headquarters in the historic Palácio Foz in downtown Lisbon, will bring together a large number of participants from all regions of the world, as well as form Portugal and the Lusophone countries to debate the issues of how the promotion of human rights and of multilingualism, and the fight against all forms of discrimination can be best be addressed by all media, audiovisual and print, commercial, community, educational and public service, traditional and new technology.

Participants include high level representatives of national media regulatory authorities, journalists and media professional associations, academics, civil society groups and other sectors of society with an interest in these subjects.

The objective of the conference is to provide the participants, UNESCO and its Member States with ideas and, above all, a plan of action for further developing activities and normative action concerning these subjects. The conference will consist of high level interventions in panels, open debates, practical workshops and the screening of several productions by film makers from around the world dealing with several human rights issues, and providing a local and independent content approach to their work, produced in relation UNESCO’s cross cutting project on “Harnessing ICTs for the audiovisual industry and public service broadcasting”.

The main objective of this initiative is two-fold: On the one hand, as recent tragic events have demonstrated, the media itself does not always take a human rights approach or consideration when reporting/covering news and information, often preferring to concentrate on short headlines or purely political/strategic considerations, at the expense of the “human side” of information. This issue needs to be examined so as to find a possibility for considering all aspects of a news story. On the other hand, we often see that the information and communication needs of marginalized communities are, for mostly economic or business reasons, left unfilled or insufficiently addressed. When reporting, for example, criminality among certain groups of society the media presents the results of the criminality and its effects on the wider or more “mainstream” sectors of society, thus neglecting the reasoning, attitudes, conditions or other elements of the group committing these crimes. The latter often have no avenue for making their voices heard, and it is this channel that “public service” media must open to them, so that they may feel included, listened to and, in consequence, less prone to isolation and to being marginalized. For this to happen, the media professionals themselves, at all levels, must attempt to incorporate this notion of “public service” into their attitudes and work methods/objectives.

Following this line of thought, this event aims at bringing together those principally responsible for media activities as well as for creating, implementing and upholding the framework necessary for human rights to have a useful access and be an integral part of communication media, respectful of internationally-recognized principles of freedom of expression. In other words, authorities responsible for the formulation of communication policies and representatives of groups affected by them (civil society, artists, creators, producers, journalists, academics, etc.) should be the main participants in this think-tank like forum of open discussion and exchange of experiences, information, ideas and suggestions on the issues related to the promotion of media and communication activities and policies that mainstream human rights.
Related themes/countries

      · Public Service Broadcasting: News Archives 2005
      · Freedom of Expression: News Archives 2005
      · Portugal: News Archives
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