"Gubbio Chart" on freedom of information in Italy

<CENTER>Information freedom and right to information Committee

(Gubbio, 2004, May 21st )

Europe and Information: Gubbio chart

(unanimously approved) </CENTER>

1) Strongly reaffirm the Rights.

Information freedom, freedom of research, freedom of communication, freedom of cultural expression are irrepressible civil Rights for all the citizens of the European Union.

These rights cannot be limited in any way, because it would mean not only a lesion to the principles that are the heart of every national Constitution (recognized also by art. 11 of the Fundamental Rights Chart of the European Union signed in Nizza), but also a lesion to the freedom of services’ circulation.

Every form of censorship, silencing unwanted opinions, clashes of interests, concentration of media, policy and business in very few hands, represent a serious danger to the democratic future of every State and of the European Union too.

What is happening in Italy could happen also elsewhere. For these reasons the European Commission and the European Parliament decided to pay a lot of attention to the issue of freedom of the media.

The European Parliament approved on April, 22nd, an important resolution on risks of the violation of expression and information freedom in the European Union and especially in Italy. This resolution explicitly asks the insertion in the European Constitution of a specific provision that will ensure media pluralism.

2) Separation between economical and media power and political power, to safeguard democracy.

a) clash of interests, incompatibility: the progressive superimposition of executive power, property of media and economic richness without rules risks to alter the principle of equality between citizens, the free and conscious right to vote, therefore the democracy too.

Italy is a pathological case, but not the only one. Similar phenomena are happening elsewhere, especially in former soviet countries. The entire European Union could see, during the Italian semester of presidency, how the anomalous situation of a member could damage the credibility of the entire Union.

That’s the reason why the next European Parliament must do its best, with other institution and the European Commission, to make common rules on clashes of interests and incompatibility be approved, to prevent politics or candidates from having economic interests in media, to insert the juridical instruments necessary to avoid every clashes of interests and to ensure that members of the government won’t be able to use their participation in media for political ends.

b) a directive on media property.

the European Parliament required many times a directive on media property to limit the power of oligopolies ( see the resolution of the European Parliament on media concentration in November 2002. See also the Sylla report on Union’s rights and Perry’s report of 2003, September 4th on the actuation of the directive Tv without frontiers). A normative intervention of this kind could help to give to the new political Europe a characteristic of non- confusion between powers, both new and traditional ones. Media sector is basic for economic development and realization of Lisboan agenda. But the concentration of property, that is usually transnational, and the restrictions to the access to market, limit the potential of the European industry. Furthermore, the defence of pluralism is essential for the harmonic development of media sector. To this point should be linked the creation of a European Authority that controls media commerce, and that guarantees citizens’ rights on this issue (the right to a plural information, the right of access).

3) Development of European audiovisual product.

The Europe of the future will need a free and open market, but also a multiplicity of independent authors and producers that can create original communication productions. The potentiality of digital new technologies, the biggest capacity of networks, risk to remain useless if there won’t create new products with plural contests of cultural diversity.

Paradoxically, the society of information creates an evident homogeneity of contents. Bigger parts of civil society are emarginated or darkened by the media. Therefore the issue of development of cultural production must be fundamental.

It’s necessary to give a bigger impulse in this direction to communitarian and national policies of audiovisual media, in order to stimulate the production of contents and the creation of new enterprises that won’t be only a satellite of the dominant networks.

4) The new alphabets.

Every citizen has the right to be able to learn old and new alphabets and to have access to old and new information and knowledge networks, also as new conception of universal service in these sectors.

That’s the reason why we recognize ourselves in the Lisboan strategy and in the decisions already taken by the European Commission and by the European Parliament and we will work hard to promote every initiative that will help to guarantee the same opportunities not only between citizens, but also between different European regions.

5) Industrial policies and work.

The future of digital new technologies could represent a potential sector of industrial technological development, with acts that speed this development, with positive results in sectors of technologies and contracts, in production of contents, in growing of demand of goods and services. That’s why it’s necessary to consolidate and develop the Lisboan strategy.

In this ambit the aspect of defence of the rights to work is particularly delicate. Indeed, the continuous expansion of a structural precariousness, with the atipicalness and the extreme flexibility of working performance, is a condition diffuse trough the employed. The uneasiness is particularly strong for a political and cultural independent work .

Therefore it became very important to foresee and to extent a network of defence and of professional formation courses that could safeguard all workers, creating the conditions to extend the sureness and the quality of work..

We entirely agree with the indications that the resolution approved by the European Parliament on april,22nd gave on public broadcasters. These indications follows:

6) The statute of editorial enterprise and the freedom chart.

The right to inform and to be informed is a basic stone for the individual freedom and for democracy.

For these reasons it’s now time to define the “parameters of freedom”, a sort of foundation statute that could define the common rules in this sector.

The right to information and to knowledge cannot and must not be censored or restricted in any way, except for the limits gave by conventions that ensure dignity and privacy.

The freedom chart must defend freedom of expression and, above all, the inalienable right to choose that belong to every citizen.

7) Public services.

We entirely agree with the indications that the European Parliament gave on public broadcaster on April, 22nd . The indications follows:

The European Parliament ...notes, in particular, the duty of the public-sector broadcaster to provide the public with a high-quality service which ensures access to diverse accurate, objective, neutral and reliable information, culture and content in order to guarantee credibility, pluralism, identity, participation and cultural innovation, as recognised furthermore, by the Protocol on public broadcasting annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty;

Stresses the need to ensure that in all the EU Member States the public broadcaster is maintain in power, or to limit criticism of, the government-in-office and that, in the fully independent and free from interference so that public funding is not used to event of interference from the national government, there is recourse to the courts or an independent adjudicator.

8) Press information as a service.

In the system of guarantees of communication rights in Europe, the problem of reformation of press system is urgent. It includes the development of current editorial market and the European structure of the editorial world. It also includes the main points of newspaper distribution and risks of concentration in Europe, especially where communication rights are weaker, as in Italy. These are problems that must be basic in the work of European Parliament, in new scenes that should involve the same structure and the continental press distribution process, especially in these countries from Italy to the new members of the European Union.

That’s why we need concrete and urgent laws in order to guarantee pluralism in press creation and distribution, that must be linked to the same pluralism in advertisement distribution and in reduction of taxes on editorial products.

9) Copyright, network and right to information and knowledge.

We must ensure that the positions taken by the European Parliament, with the Enforcement directive on copyright, won’t be changed.

The network represents a potential of freedom and of knowledge that must be defended.

The right economic remuneration of the intelligence’s work must be reconciled with the social dimension of knowledge and information. At the same time, the right remuneration of the scientific and pharmacological discoveries must be reconciled with the health of human beings. The intelligence’s work can’t never be privatise because it’s part of the patrimony of humanity and of its history.

The attempts to equalize the non-commercial file sharing and camorrist activities, as in the sitting of the Italian Senate in May, 18th, represent the worrying symptom of a totalising and totalitarian idea of market, that nowadays is more dangerous because of the more rigid control operated on the Web in the name of the fight against terrorism.

10) An appeal to all candidates.

On all these points the General States of Information and Culture, meeting in Gubbio on 2004, may 21st and 22nd , ask the explicit care of the candidates to next European elections, whatever is the list within they participate. As was in the nineties for the economical parameters of Maastrichit, it’s time that new parameters – of expression freedom, of pluralism, of being informed – guides the action and the choices of European Union and all its States. The Europe of citizens cannot really born if rights of communication, that are essential for the quality of the democracy, won’t be guaranteed.