Casablanca declaration : public broadcasting in the Mediterranean region

<CENTER>A voice for the public : Public service broadcasting in the Mediterranean region


Casablanca, 15-16 November 2001



Journalists and news professionals attending the conference on A Voice for the Public: Public Service Broadcasting in the Mediterranean Region (Casablanca, 15-16 November 2001) have adopted the following declaration:

- We reiterate the provisions of the Rabat conference on working together with civil society to create a network of journalists in the Mediterranean region with a view to introducing a strategy of change in the media sector;

- We regret the state monopoly on news media in certain countries in the region and the lack of legal and professional structures to guarantee the economic and political independence of news services;

- We emphasise that editorial independence, freedom of expression, pluralism of opinion and the independence of public broadcasters are essential principles in a democratic society;

- We note that criminal legal provisions - and in particular prison sentences - in the area of freedom of expression are an obstacle to the development of independent broadcasting;

- We note the creation by the International Federation of Journalists, in conjunction with civil society, of a campaign for the establishment and defence of independent public service broadcasting, and we support this campaign in the Mediterranean region;

- We note the development of specific collaborative initiatives involving journalists in the region, such as Mediterraneo and RAI-MED, the latter being a new channel which broadcasts news in Arabic by satellite and over the Internet;

- We call upon journalists and public broadcasting management to support and encourage such initiatives so as to ensure a better dialogue between both sides of the Mediterranean;

- We believe that cooperation with the Permanent Conference of Mediterranean Audiovisual Operators (CoPeAM) is important for the exchange of news and information programmes between public service broadcasters in the Mediterranean region, and this in conjunction with the EBU's operational structures;

- We recognise the diversity of the public service broadcasting sector and the diversity of relations with the private sector in the region;

- We reiteratethe need for high-quality training for journalists, including training in new technologies, ethics, human rights and safety;

- We reiterate the importance of the role played by journalists' trade unions and associations in bolstering editorial independence and forging solidarity between media workers in the region;

WE DECLARE that in the countries of the Mediterranean region it is essential to establish and/or protect

- a legal and financial framework ensuring independent and democratic public broadcasting;

- compliance with or the establishment of an internal democratic decision-making and management process within the public broadcasting sector;

- respect for the role played by supervisory and management bodies, respect for the human rights and obligations of personnel, and respect for the standards set out in editorial statutes, as defined in the International Federation of Journalists' Zagreb Declaration, and the right of personnel to engage in trade union activities;

- the intensification of 1) journalists' and media workers' trade union activities, 2) trade union solidarity and 3) the activities of the network of journalists in the Mediterranean;

- the intensification of cooperation between journalists and public service broadcasting management with a view to 1) improving exchanges of experience and individuals, and 2) developing joint productions. Specific initiatives should be examined for organising training courses and exchanges for this purpose within the broadcasting sector on both sides of the Mediterranean.

- a campaign, in conjunction with civil society, for the defence and/or establishment of democratic, pluralistic public broadcasting.

Casablanca, 16 November 2001