The Challenge of Public Broadcasting In Asia - Conference, Colombo 1-3 December 2003 - FINAL DECLARATION

<center>Back to Main Page of Asia PSB Campaign

More Information on the IFJ Asia-Pacific Website


Journalists’ unions and associations from 13 Asian countries, meeting in Colombo from December 1-3rd 2003 under the auspices of the International Federation of Journalists global campaign Public Broadcasting for All, having considered the situation facing public broadcasting in Asia,


That the creation of 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 fairness

  • Transparency

  • Social responsibility such as education and children

  • 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

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

    That public service media demands recognition of strong, independent unions of journalists and media workers that guarantee the right to work in line with professional principles, 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 state media sector with the following objectives:

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

  • 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.

  • 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 which should include public representatives and not be dominated by government.

  • To promote models of financing for PSB that guarantees funding is secured, is sufficient for needs, limits advertising income and is protected from political and commercial interference. Funding must not be used as a means of control.

  • To provide responsibilities of boards of management and senior managers are explicitly set out in drafting of regulations. Boards and senior managers should be selected through transparent processes that guarantee genuine independence

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

  • To cater to the needs of different communities within societies

  • To develop and empower unions of journalists in the region for a full representation of journalists and media workers in the decisions taking process.

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

  • To ensure private media operate in a legal framework that promotes independence and diversity of ownership.

    The meeting welcomes the Declaration of Bangkok adopted by governments of the region under the auspice of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development. We particularly note that governments have agreed to:

  • “encourage autonomy in content creation, management, finance and administration of Public Service Broadcasters”.

  • “ Create legal structures to allow independence of decision making to the public broadcasters.

  • “Ensure complete editorial independence”.

    We further urge that the national dialogues on these issues should ensure that

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

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

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

  • There is commitment to editorial independence and the right of journalists to act in line with international ethical standards.

    Additionally, it is essential for a national media landscape to be created, including the private sector, which respects editorial independence, labour rights and the right of journalists and media workers to join a union, and which is accountable to the community.

    The meeting recognises the social and professional responsibility of journalists in this process and believes that confidence building measures such as training and raising awareness of professional ethical standards and the need for pluralism and diversity are needed.

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

    1. Each journalists organisation in the region affiliated with the IFJ will work with the IFJ Asia office under the auspices of the IFJ’s Public Broadcasting for All campaign to develop national action plans to promote public service broadcasting in that country.

    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 including trade union training, administrative skills support, and organising around professional issues affecting PSB including editorial independence and other public service values

    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 in both public and private media that reflect common values in order to ensure editorial independence.

    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.

    6. The IFJ will work with affiliates to eliminate all forms of corruption in the media such as bribes, gifts and “envelopes” which undermine the integrity and independence of journalism

    7. We all commit to support and defend our colleagues who take action to defend editorial independence, the principles of PSB and trade union rights.

    8. To seek to ensure appropriate steps are taken to address issues of increased media concentration and ownership which undermine the development of a pluralistic media landscape.

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

    10. Affiliates and the IFJ-Asia office shall share information among themselves, with the IFJ globally and with other interested parties to promote common values and regional solidarity. This can be done, for example, through regular e-bulletins, web pages, and other forms of communication.

    11. Each affiliate shall nominate a contact person for the continuing campaign in the region. Initially, the representative at this meeting will be the contact person.

    Colombo, December 3rd 2003

    Back to Main Page of PSB Asia Campaign


    Sri Lanka







    Timor Loro’sae


    The Philippines

    Hong Kong