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14 July 2011

Right2Know Media Diversity Seminar

Please find below an invitation for the R2K Seminar on Media Diversity taking place on Tuesday 26 July:

Please share it any R2K supporter interested in attending.

Places (and travel budget) are limited so people should indicate their interest as soon as possible before Friday 15 July.

The Seminar Concept Note is copied below.

_____________________________________________________________

At it’s first National Summit in February 2011 the Right2Know
Campaign noted that while the Campaign was launched in response to
the Protection of Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill), the Bill was
itself symptomatic of a broader threat to the free flow of
information in South Africa. The Summit adopted a Vision & Mission
Statement (see Appendix 1) and resolved that the R2K Campaign should
broaden its focus from the Secrecy Bill to include other aspects on
access to information as well as defending and enhancing the
dissemination of information – media freedom and diversity (see
Appendix 2: R2K Resolution on Media Freedom & Diversity).

The Right2Know Campaign is holding a one day Strategy Seminar on the
26 July 2011 from 09h30 to 17h00 in Johannesburg to consult Campaign
stakeholders, develop perspectives and plans to campaign for greater
media diversity.

Seminar Background

There’s a high concentration of media ownership with an estimated
90% of South African media controlled by five companies (four
commercial and one public). This together with the commercialization
of all spheres of media (commercial, public & community) impacts
negatively on diversity and the free flow of information.

Developing a strong and independent community media sector that can
meet the information needs of marginalized communities is critical
to address this lack of diversity and making the Constitutional
rights to access information and freedom of expression real for the
majority of South Africans.

South Africa has made important strides in developing a community
media sector. In particular there are currently over 100 community
radio stations broadcasting to almost all urban and peri-urban
townships and many rural villages in South Africa. The South African
Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) reported in June 2008 that
these stations collectively have 7 200 000 daily listeners. A
separate household survey conducted amongst listeners of 15
community radio stations by the Community Agency for Social Enquiry
(CASE) found that 95% of respondents listen to their community radio
stations daily.

The South African community radio movement is based on the belief
that radio is the most affordable, egalitarian and accessible
communication technology available and should be harnessed, at the
community level, to carry forward the country's reconstruction and
development. The South African community radio movement supports the
definition of community broadcasting in the Windhoek Charter on
Broadcasting in Africa (2001): "Community broadcasting is
broadcasting which is for, by and about the community, and whose
ownership and management is representative of the community, which
pursues a social development agenda, and which is non-profit”.

These projects are stable and self-sustaining despite the many
challenges they face in generating income, quality content and
meaningful community participation. Despite these challenges, some
community radio stations, through their programming, news, and
attention to local language and culture, have established themselves
as unique voices in the South African media.

One of the key strengths of community radio is its diversity and
geographical spread – community radio stations work with diverse
constituencies right across South Africa in urban settings as well
as in the rural periphery bringing together different gender, race,
age, political, and socio-economic groupings.

However this sector as a whole remains weak, under-resourced and
dependent on market forces for sustainability, which erodes
community ownership and control.

In this context the 2010 Public Service Broadcast Bill (BSB)
contained a number of potential opportunities and threats for the
independence and function of community broadcasters. The proposed
Bill proposed establishing a Public Service Broadcasting Fund to
lessen the market dependence of media projects but prescribed a
charter for community broadcasters that laid out the size,
composition and terms for governance structures and includes a
controversial proposal that municipal officials become ex-officio
members of the governing boards of stations. It also suggests that
the primary role of community broadcasters is to provide information
about what Government and municipalities are doing, suggesting a more
passive, ‘mouth-piece’
role and dilutes the critical role that this sector can play in
facilitating and encouraging vigorous and robust debate on
development priorities in their local contexts and taking on
municipalities and Government for service delivery failures and
corruption where necessary.

The Bill was met with significant resistance from civil society
forcing the Minister of Communications, Mr. Roy Padayachie, to
announced that the proposed Bill would be put on hold and that an
extensive Ministerial Policy Review of all Broadcast Policy would be
undertaken in 2011.

The seminar aims to develop civil society capacity to engage in this
critical policy review process to ensure that media freedom and
diversity is enhanced in South African and an enabling environment
is created where community media can thrive to serve the
communication needs of our communities.

Who should attend?

The Strategy Seminar is open to a wide range of community media
stakeholders form civil society including community media
stations/publications, trade unions, social movements, faith based
organisations, CBOs and NGOs.

Participants at the workshop should be in general agreement with the
Right2Know Campaign’s Vision and Mission (see Appendix 1),
Principles (see Appendix 2) and Resolution on Media Freedom and
Diversity (See Appendix 3), as these are the starting point for the
discussion.

Unfortunately participation in the seminar will be limited because
of budgetary constraints. If you are interested in attending the
seminar please email m...@aidc.org.za before the 15 July 2011.

Draft Seminar Programme

The draft programme for the Strategy Seminar for the 26 July 2011 in
Johannesburg is as follows:

9h30 Registration
10h00 Welcome & Introductions
10h15 INPUT: Media Freedom & Diversity - Presentation of R2K
National Summit Resolution
10h30 DISCUSSION - initial responses to Resolution
11h30 TEA
12h00 INPUT: Media Concentration, Ownership & Control -
Presentation of R2K discussion document
12h30 Discussions on Media Ownership & Control
13h00 LUNCH
14h00 PANEL: Community Media challenges and Alternatives
(based on
R2K discussion document)
- Funding Community Media
- Community Media Governance/
Independence
- Community Media Programming/Content
15h00 COMMISSIONS on panel themes and plotting way forward?
15h30 TEA
16h00 Commissions report
16h30 Way Forward & Plan of Action
- further consultation within and beyond R2K
- engaging the Ministerial Policy Review
- popular education & mobilization
17h00 CLOSURE

### ENDS ###
APPENDIX 1: Right2Know Campaign National Summit Resolution on Media
Freedom and Diversity

The Summit noted that:
ß There’s a high concentration of media ownership with 90% of South
African media controlled by five companies (four commercial and one
public). This impacts negatively on diversity and the free flow of
information; ß Mainstream media represents the interests of a small
and elite ideological base; ß SA has been at the forefront of
launching community radio. However, this sector remains weak and
under-resourced and dependent on market forces for sustainability,
which erodes community ownership and control; ß The role of ICASA
has been unable to perform its key function of monitoring compliance
and its regulatory functions, especially in relation to the SABC; ß
The ruling party’s proposed Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) poses a
significant threat to media freedom and independence. However, there
is a increasing trend amongst the print media for sensationalist
reportage that lacks in critical depth and adopts citizens ‘ agenda,
and a lack of community and minority (women and children etc.)
representation; ß There is tremendous development and democratic
potential in social media as portals for exercising people’s rights.

Believing that:
ß Freedom of expression is a foundational Human Right and media
freedom is an integral component of freedom of expression; ß The
media is a public good and should not be commodified for purely
profit-driven purposes; ß A strong and independent regulator is
critical for an independent broadcast media that functions free from
government and commercial interference; ß There needs to be
diversity of ownership (private, government and
community) that each have the responsibility exercise a high
standard of journalistic ethics, including accuracy; ß The media
should offer diverse content and include the voices of poor and
working class people;

Therefore the Summit resolved:
1. To campaign to strengthen ICASA to ensure that it functions and
regulates courageously in the interest of the public, and not
government and commercial interests; 2. Campaign for the adequate
and sustainable funding of community media. Community media should
not be overly reliant on market sources of funding; 3. Campaign for
the adequate funding of the MDDA and to ensure that it is
independent, more effective, and that it is more transparent and
accountable in its processes, so that it fulfils its mandate of
growing and diversifying the media; 4. Ensure that community
stations are democratically owned and controlled by the community,
and to support communities in claiming their ownership and
participation in their stations, 5. Explore possible anti-trust
measures to limit the concentration of media ownership; 6. Reject
the Media Appeals Tribunal or any statutory regulation that impacts
on editorial freedom in the print sector; 7. Campaign for redressing
infrastructural impediments to the exchange of information including
accessible and affordable broadband for internet access; 8. Engage
in the policy review process on the far reaching Public Service
Broadcast Bill that is to be conducted by the Department of
Communications to ensure that these resolutions and principles are
applied and upheld in any legislation.

APPENDIX 2: Right2Know Campaign Vision & Mission

The Right2Know National Summit in February 2011 workshopped and
adopted the following vision and mission statements for the campaign:

Our vision:

“We seek a country and a world where we all have the right to know –
that is to be free to access and to share information.
This right is fundamental to any democracy that is open,
accountable, participatory and responsive; able to deliver the
social, economic and environmental justice we need.
On this foundation a society and an international community can be
built in which we all live free from want, in equality and in dignity.


Our Mission:

ß To co-ordinate, unify, organise and activate those who share our
principles to defend and advance the right to know.
ß To struggle both for the widest possible recognition in law and
policy of the right to know and for its implementation and practice
in daily life.
ß To root the struggle for the right to know in the struggles of
communities demanding political, social, economic and environmental
justice.
ß To propagate our vision throughout society.
ß To engage those with political and economic power where necessary.
ß To act in concert and solidarity with like-minded people and
organisations locally and internationally.

APPENDIX 3: Right2Know Campaign Principles

The Right2Know National Summit in February 2011 workshopped and
adopted the following principles for the Campaign:

“R2K Principles (“The Shalimar Principles”)

Preamble
We subscribe to the right to know, which is founded in the right to
dignity and is realised through rights freely to access and share
information.

We shall defend and advance the right to know, encouraged that it
and its constituent rights were won through peoples’ struggles in
South Africa and internationally, and are affirmed in the
Constitution of South Africa, the African Charter on Human and
Peoples’ Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We commit to the following principles, both in our own policies and
practices and in the vision we propagate throughout society:

Principle 1: Access to Information
All people have the right to access information, and have it equally.
This right has inherent value and enables many other democratic
rights.

The right to access information must be defended and advanced in
law, policy and practice as demanded inter alia by section 32 of the
Constitution of South Africa.

Principle 2: Free Flow of Information All people have the right to
express themselves – that is to share information, including opinion
– freely and equally. This right has inherent value and enables many
other democratic rights.

The right to free expression must be defended and advanced in law,
policy and practice as demanded inter alia by section 16 of the
Constitution of South Africa.

Principle 3: Free and Diverse Media
The media have rights and corresponding duties to access and
disseminate information, including opinion, freely and fairly,
without fear or favour. These rights and duties are vital to the
public’s exercise of many other democratic rights.

Media freedom must be defended and advanced in law, policy and
practice as demanded inter alia by section 16 of the Constitution of
South Africa.

Media diversity must be extended so that everyone, in particular the
socially and economically marginalised, shall have a voice.

Principle 4: Accountability and Transparency Transparency, achieved
through the right to know, holds power to account so that political,
social, economic and environmental justice is realised.

Principle 5: Informed Public Participation The right to know
empowers all people to participate in democracy actively and
effectively so that they can defend and advance their political,
social, economic and environmental rights.

Principle 6: Truth and Quality of Information The rights to access
information must be served through the provision of information that
is reliable, verifiable and representative of the data from which it
is derived, and must include the right to access source data itself.
Information must be provided transparently and equally, untainted by
partisan interests.

Principle 7: Proactive Dissemination of Information Public and
private bodies must disseminate information proactively.
Laws providing for access to information must not be used as a
shield to obstruct its release.

Principle 8: Equality
All rights, including the rights here demanded like any other right,
are equal to all people regardless of any human or social
characteristic including class, race, gender, language or sexual
orientation.

Principle 9: Community Involvement
The right to know is vital to the struggles of communities demanding
political, social, economic and environmental justice. Campaign
efforts rooted in communities and their needs are vital to the
campaign’s success and the realisation of a responsive and
accountable democracy that can meet the basic needs of our people.

Principle 10: Solidarity
The full realisation of the right to know cannot be defined by
individuals, organisations or borders. Our campaign is best served
where we act in concert and solidarity with like minded people and
organisations locally and internationally.”

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