Public Broadcasters 'United in Fostering Cultural Diversity' at INPUT meeting in Taipei

Delegates of 21 public broadcasters worldwide and its related organizations in 18 countries, jointly attended at the Second Public Broadcasters Global Media Summit in Taipei on May 8. This Summit, as biggest one of the side events belongs to International Public Television (INPUT) Screening Conference, was initiated by U.S. Independent Television Service (ITVS) in 2005, now gained its further promotion in Asia, coordinated through Taiwan Public Television Service (PTS). The topic for Second Summit dealt with multiculturalism.

According to the core concern of public television, cultural diversity has become the common characteristic of modern societies through the increase of global investment, immigration, traveling, employment and marriage. As the organizer of the Summit, chose the multiculturalism as the topic, PTS is not just for fulfilling the mission to promote a democratic way of modern life, but also learnt the lesson from that then made the decision.

The outbreak of big divide toward the result of 2004 Presidential Election in Taiwan is the origin. It marked an alarming event in emerging a political support divide follows along with the line of ethnic divide domestically. Witness the ten anniversary of Rwanda Genocide, right after the Madrid Attack, it showed the importance of public service broadcasting playing a role in a democratic transformation process, specially at fostering a peaceful talks to deal with different ethnic groups involved within a national political controversy.

“This smaller and closer world may not be as rosy, cozy, friendly and peaceful as we would like it to be. At our home fronts, we have our own unique circumstance created by specific historical course.” remarked by Dr. Louis Chen, Chairman of PTS and the Summit as well. Continually, he emphasized in the Welcome Speech, “the Global Media Summit on Multiculturalism is a timely, precious opportunity for us as public broadcasters to reflect on our mission and commitment to democracy. We believe in democratic values and commit ourselves to fostering democratic dialogues and nurturing civil societies.” Then, after raised the implication of UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity for this Summit, he inspired the delegates to show their commitments in supporting or engaging this universal action. It brought out a local version of discussion imprinted on this global policy rhetoric. Dr. Munch, President of SRG SSR idée Suisse, ex-SG of European Broadcasting Union, said in the Press Conference, “Last year, the Convention was developed and signed at UNESCO, as the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity and, in it the particular role of public service broadcasters to achieve the goals of this Convention is underlined at least three times!” So it is quite meaningful to raise this topic again after it was approved half a year ago. Munch hoped this local initiative will gather more support to let this Convention been ratified by most countries in very short period of time.

All participants of Summit understand that each society has its own definition of cultural diversity and finalize its solution to deal with multiculturalism. However, for them the great advantage of attendance is to learn the experience from the colleague worldwide. Therefore, when Northeast Asian colleague promote the international cultural exchange program, but Singapore delegate was shed the light by the experience of South African public broadcasters. However, through program exchange, Taiwan delegate found out the similar situation of international marriage facing by Korean colleague. And the Scandinavian delegate provided the video clips of multiculturalism program and description excited many colleague across the globe, and so on.

After the Closing Remark made by old veteran of PSB, David Brugger, the previous President of Association of Public Television Station, U.S., all delegates have been activated to look forward based on their own surroundings. The climax of the Summit was reached by the unilateral approval, through the sign ceremony participated by each delegate, with following statement:

We, the undersigned, recognize that cultural diversity is a defining characteristic of humanity and that each society is made up of unique cultural features and experiences. In many corners of the globe, sympathy, understanding and trust are in desperate need – not just for the appreciation of cultural diversity, but more importantly for living a just and peaceful life in a multicultural environment. As leaders of public broadcasting organizations, it is our belief that mutual respect derives from democratic dialogue and that can be nurtured by the media. Using media expertise and resources, we therefore resolve to promote cultural diversity within democracy and to contribute to mutual understanding and trust in the domestic and international spheres, in the hope that our societies and fellow citizens will benefit from our efforts and further fulfill the democratic way of life.

Among the total 22 delegates of organization who signed for this statement, 8 are members of Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and itself, 7 belong to the membership of Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, and 4 are the Active Members of European Broadcasting Union, 3 came from the Southern Africa Broadcasting Association, and 4 are media professionals in general based in North America, 1 was promoted from the incoming Indigenous Broadcasters International. 

Hamilton Cheng, PhD.
Research and Development
Taiwan Public Television Service

Email [email protected]