Bangkok Declaration

The 1st Conference of
the Ministers on
Information & Broadcasting
in the Asia-Pacific Region
May 27  28, 2003 Bangkok, Thailand


Introduction

The 1st Conference of the Ministers on Information and Broadcasting in Asia and the Pacific region was held in Bangkok from 27-28 May 2003 and was hosted by the Government of the Royal Kingdom of Thailand.

This was in the form of a Thematic Debate and a regional preparatory meeting for the World Summit on Information Society to be held in Geneva in 2003.

The Ministers of Information and Broadcasting from various countries in the Asia-Pacific region as well as heads of radio and television organizations, policy makers, decision makers, scholars, and representatives of international organizations attended this unique Conference in Bangkok to discuss pressing matters related to the Information and Broadcasting sectors. The Deputy Prime Minister of the Royal Kingdom of Thailand hosted the Conference, which was organized by the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) and actively support e d by the International Telecommunication Union,UNESCO,United Nations, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and the French Government.

The objective of the meeting was to discuss in depth the experiences and challenges being faced by public service broadcasters in the region and to arrive at a better understanding a n d closer cooperation in responding to the challenges. The Conference adopted constructive recommendations for further consideration by all stakeholders in Information and Broadcasting as the first regional attempt of its kind.

Preamble

  1. Considering that globalization should be a two-way road and that there is a growing concern about the possible expansion of one single global culture, the media are encouraged to contribute to the preservation of cultural identities and to the promotion of cultural dive rsity, without destroying the positive factors of internationalism. Media professionals can play an important role in informing, educating and entertaining the public, fostering peace and mutual respect.
  2. Believing that diversity lends itselfto enrichment of human communitybroadcasters , should perceive and project that diversity to promote peace, and communal harmony amongst nations of the world.
  3. Mindful of the crucial role played by public service broadcasting in increasing the awareness of people, promoting freedom of expression, ensuring free flow of information and ideas, maintaining diversity in the broadcasting sector and empowering communities, public service broadcasting should provide programming that serves the public interest and facilitate people's participation in development programs for societies.
  4. Taking into account that the technology revolution and Internet development has a opened up a new digital era, the perceived information divide needs to be bridged.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendation 1

Media and Globalization Media, in public and private domains, are encouraged and need to be facilitated to:

1.1 Be impartial and sensitive in reporting while being independent.

1.2 Become fora for public dialogue,knowledge sharing,promotion of diversity mutual , understanding and tolerance.

1.3 Create rich and high quality local content to meet social expectations.

Recommendation 2: Cultural Diversity

2.1 The participants considered that, unlike ordinary goods, cultural and audiovisual works do not lend themselves to governance by general rules of free exchange for goods and services.They subscribe to the concept of cultural diversityincluding multicultural, and multi-ethnic societies, in order to prevent the global risk of standardization. All concerned parties, governments, civil societies, public and private broadcasters are encouraged to preserve and promote cultural diversity in their respective countries and to develop dialogue among various cultures internationally.

2.2 Authorities are encouraged to:

  1. Develop specific regulatory mechanisms to support and encourage public and private radio and television programs aimed to promote cultural diversity;
  2. Create a fund to encourage broadcasters, artists and producers to produce and broadcast programs with local content;
  3. Ensure that the right holders / artists can get their proper dues and the copyright of the products is rightfully protected.

2.3 The participants consider UNESCO to be the appropriate international institution to develop an international normative instrument to protect and promote cultural diversity.

Recommendation 3: Public Service Broadcasting

3.1 Public Service Broadcasters are encouraged to:

  1. Promote and develop education, including community education, spread of information, empowerment and people's participation in society and development addressing all groups of society;
  2. Create programs which carry credibility with pluralistic groups and which promote cultural diversity and bring positive effects of globalization to all communities;
  3. Create rich and quality content for all, and in particular by and for women, youth and children that counters the influence of violence, communal hatred and carry such content on prime time;
  4. Initiate public debate and common ground talks between policy-makers, academics and media professionals to counter negative effects of violence in media. Broadcasters can promote the culture of dialogue among civilizations with the view to promote understanding and peace;
  5. Exploit new technologies to expand coverage and accessibility to information and healthy entertainment;
  6. Promote protection of copyrights of content by coming out strongly against piracy and unauthorized use of content.

3.2 Authorities are encouraged to:

  1. Allow autonomy in content creation, management, finance and administration of public service broadcasters;
  2. Study and consider the following funding mechanisms for public service broadcasting:
    1. One-time fee while buying a radio/television/electronic appliances/mobile phones
    2. Introduction of a license fee either as a stand-alone or as an addition to the electricity bill
    3. Government grants for infrastructure
    4. Advertising/commercial revenue, but it should not undermine the mandate of public service broadcasting
    5. Sponsorship
    6. Contribute to production of programs for clearly defined developmental needs;
  3. Regularly review the mandate of public service broadcasting in view of national, regional and global events in order to foster mutual understanding, tolerance and trust.;
  4. Allocate preferential frequencies to public service broadcasters;
  5. Create legal structures to allow independence of decision making to public broadcasters;
  6. Ensure allocation of adequate time by private networks for public service programs and for pluralistic content for all groups of society;
  7. Ensure complete editorial independence.

Recommendation 4: Information Divide

4.1 Authorities are requested to make efforts to:

  1. Promote the spread of information / education by expanding the reach and coverage of television and radio;
  2. Reduce the gap between the potential haves and have nots in the digital age by promoting the use of ICTs,particularly through setting up community multimedia centers;
  3. Provide universal and affordable access to information and infrastructure;
  4. Protect the interests of the economically weaker and disadvantaged sections of society in the era of convergence;
  5. Create a knowledge rich society.

Recommendation 5: Human Resource Development (HRD)

5.1 All broadcasters are encouraged, in cooperation with international institutions to:

  1. Regularly upgrade the skills, independence of reporting for different age groups of viewers, diversity of cultures and religions and impact of reports on current efforts to create one global society;
  2. Train personnel in all aspects of broadcasting;
  3. Develop an independent and voluntary code of ethics which reflects high professional standards and commitment to peace and fair and impartial reportage.

The Conference took note of the emerging concerns on the impact of content on national, regional and international happenings and mandated AIBD to work for:

  1. An independent and neutral world broadcasting network to promote public service; peace, harmony and goodwill through credible coverage of world happenings; and promotion of plurality;
  2. Providing a forum for interaction between broadcasters and policy makers to regularly debate issues of topical concern;
  3. Providing training in emerging areas of interest and how to take advantage of new technologies;
  4. Providing a forum to debate the changing mandate and objectives of public service broadcasting in light of the emerging global environment.