Rabat Declaration : PSB in the Mediterranean

<CENTER>Towards Public Broadcasting in Morocco and in the Region :

Conference on Public Broadcasting in the Mediterranean

Rabat, 16-17 December 2003

Click HERE for the Programme of the Conference


Representatives of journalists’ associations and unions from the region, media professionals and representatives of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), meeting in Rabat on 16-17 December 2003 in the framework of the Public Broadcasting for All Campaign,

Declare that

The creation of a tolerant, peaceful and just society depends upon the freedom of citizens to have access to quality media that respect the principles of pluralism, diversity and universal respect for human rights.

That public service media should: Inform, Educate, Empower and Entertain, based on values including:

· respect for editorial independence including independence from both governments and political forces, from commercial interests and from undue influence from other pressure groups.

· Balance and transparency

· Social responsibility such as education, culture, proximity and environment

· Diversity in the workplace and programming

· Public accountability, public participation and access for all and elimination of all forms of corruption in the media

· Commitment to quality

· Creativity

· Freedom of association

· Respect of gender balance and children’s rights in the media

The values that underpin public service broadcasting also underpin commercial broadcasting, community broadcasting and other private media.

Public service media demands recognition of strong and independent unions of journalists and media workers that guarantee the right to take part in trade union activities according to ILO standards, including the right to representation, to collectively bargain and the right to strike.

With this in mind, the meeting agrees that media have a vital role to play and concludes that urgent actions are needed to reform the media sector with the following objectives:

o To work in each country on the promotion and the development of public service values in the audiovisual sector, according to the needs in each country

o To remove all forms of political control over the public service media

o To create a framework for the administration and funding of public service media, that suit local conditions, through ethical, accountable and financially transparent structures. This should include an annual report that is widely and freely available, broadcast, telecast in three prime-time spots, put on the web and debated in Parliament.

o To insist on the internal transparency by setting the responsibilities of the management in the internal regulations. Boards and senior managers should be selected through transparent processes that guarantee genuine independence, and according to the competences.

o To create a regulatory and financial framework for public service media, that suit local conditions, through ethical, accountable and financially transparent structures. This should include an annual report that is widely and freely available, and debated in Parliament.

o To guarantee the creation and the functioning of independent regulatory bodies that include a representation of journalists and media workers.

o To develop the participation of civil society in the functioning of public broadcasting, through representative structures such as consultative programming boards.

o To ensure that restructuring, where it takes place, is made after consultation of the unions or professional associations.

o To ensure public trust in the editorial independence of media, by establishing a credible complaints mechanism, beginning with an internal process and having an external body for complaints such as an ombudsperson or by any other mean.

o To promote models of financing for PSB according to local conditions that guarantees funding is secured, is sufficient for needs and limits advertising income. Funding should not be used as a means of political or commercial control.

o To support editorial self-regulation by journalists and media professionals that will promote editorial independence and high standards of reliability and quality, for both public and private media.

o To support journalists and other media workers who initiate legal actions for de the defence of editorial independence and principles of public service. To open legal actions in countries where laws or constitutional regulations that guarantee the existence of a public service broadcasting system are not respected.

o To cater to the needs of different communities within societies

o To develop and empower unions of journalists in the region for a full representation of journalists and media workers in the decisions taking process. The staff of public broadcasters should have the rights to work according to the principles of the professional and to take part to union activities, including the right of representation and the right of strike, according to the standards of the ILO.

o To ensure all staff, including freelances and other contract workers, are given clear contracts of employment in line with national labour laws and fundamental ILO standards as a guarantee of independence.

o To ensure private media operate in a legal framework that promotes editorial independence, diversity of ownership and public service values.

o To promote and support the organisation of national debates on the role of public broadcasting and its reform, and also to actively promote national groups or coalitions that act in favour or public service values.

The meeting welcomes the adoption of the UNESCO Declarations on Independence and Plurality in the Arab Media (Sana’a, 1996), on Challenges to public Broadcasting in Africa (Rabat, 2000) and on Public Service Broadcasting and Civil Society in the Arab Region (Amman, 2003).

We ask that :

o All sections of civil society are consulted in media reforms and developments;

o Journalists’ and media unions are fully engaged in the process;

o There is respect for labour rights of journalists and media staff throughout media

o A commitment of the authorities to respect these principles.

The meeting recognises the social and professional responsibility of journalists in this process and believes that awareness raising need to be developed among the public, that ethical standards, pluralism and diversity need to be supported.

This conference agrees the following actions to implement a regional campaign to promote public service broadcasting:

As part of this action plan, IFJ affiliates will work with civil society, political forces and other interested groups to promote public support for the structures and values of PSB

1. Each journalists organisation in the region affiliated with the IFJ will work under the auspices of the IFJ’s Public Broadcasting for All campaign to develop and implement a national action plan

2. As part of this action plan, IFJ affiliates will work with civil society, political forces and other interested groups to promote public support for the structures and values of PSB

3. These action plans will examine ways of building and strengthening independent trade unions in public service media

4. These action plans will also examine ways of assisting journalists and other program makers in taking initiatives to establish editorial statutes and to draft their own ethical guidelines with proposals for self-regulation

5. The IFJ will work with affiliates to consider campaigning action, including legal action, where laws and regulations are not properly enforced or where they undermine constitutional or legal obligations for a free media, and to support journalists or media workers who take action to defend editorial independence, the principles of PSB.

6. The IFJ will work with affiliates to eliminate all forms of corruption in the media which undermine the integrity and independence of journalism

7. To seek to ensure appropriate steps are taken to address issues of increased media concentration and ownership in order to guarantee a pluralistic media landscape.

8. To encourage private media to promote editorial independence and diversity of opinion in line with core public service values.

9. Affiliates shall share information among themselves, with the IFJ and with other interested parties to promote common values and regional solidarity.

To support these action, the IFJ shall :

· Publish and circulate the present action-plan ;

· Facilitate the electronic networking or the exchange of information between individuals or groups who take part or are associated with the campaign ;

· Campaign for an international support by organisations that are active in the media field, and develop activities with journalists’ or media workers’ organisations.

Rabat, 17 December 2003


Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Great Britain, International Federation of Journalists, European Broadcasting Union