Draft Prague declaration 2004
A draft for a call for community media policy in Europe
FM@dia Forum in Prague gathered several dozen representatives of various community and cultural media initiatives from all over Europe. These reflected the current situation in CEE, and discussed various strategies and conditions for sustainable civic cooperation & free unrestricted communication and information exchange. The "FM@dia forum” and its future program aim to motivate and encourage new initiatives, mutual communication and collaborations between different regions, minorities, languages and cultures.
The following Forum Manifesto, resulting from the discussions, addresses governmental, inter-governmental and corporate bodies on different levels.
Different circumstances result in a multitude of approaches to the term “Community Media”. Nevertheless, there are shared interests and common principles: freedom of speech & media plurality, public access, open source, plurality, not-for-profit, self-determination, transparency and media literacy.
Community media fulfill a need that is not met by profit-oriented corporate media or public media. They empower people and foster and develop local knowledge rather than replacing it with standard solutions.
Community media are integrated in practices of community life and provide the means for cultural expression, community discussion, and civic debate that are often ignored by corporate media.
The right to communicate
„Everyone has the right to freedom of opinions and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.“ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Art. 19, European Convention: Art. 10, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Article 11(2))).
The right to communicate presupposes that citizens and communities have affordable access to the means of communication, i.e. access to both the means of content production and of reception and distribution. With the ongoing process of the convergence and commercialisation of global media, there is an increasing need for the implementation of measures which will guarantee this.
Radio and television stations, Internet information networks and newspapers as well as cultural projects critical towards governments and corporations in many European countries are being threatened, silenced, denied licences and/or frequencies. Funding is denied or cut for political reasons. The expression of opinions that are critical towards local political structures is censored.
The European Parliament
in its resolution on media concentration P5_TA(2002)0554
(…) 5. Calls on the Commission to complete the examination within this parliamentary term of the political, economic and legal implications of a European-level regulatory framework, or other regulatory options, such as a directive, to safeguard freedom of expression and pluralism in the media and to preserve and encourage cultural diversity and to ensure fair competition in the advertising market.
The participants of FM@dia take a critical stance on nationalist and localist views, based on a constrained understanding of the 'principle of subsidiarity', because European cultural & media policies are thus prevented from taking active measures to secure the principals of the European Convention on Human Rights. We urge that the concept of subsidiarity should not be used as an excuse for neglecting critical discussion and not taking concrete steps to realise the responsibilities and opportunities of the EU. We stress the demands that the European Parliament should exercise its responsibility to guarantee freedom of expression and pluralism in the media and encourage cultural diversity. Community media are key to creating a strong, socially responsible civil society
The FM@dia Forum 04 calls for the establishment of community media and cultural policy within the European Commission and national governments with following objectives:
· People must have access to sufficient financial resources whilst respecting and preserving their independence from government and commercial media corporations.
· Revenues raised from the sale of spectrum and cable and telecommunications licenses should be reinvested in social communications objectives, including support for community media development.
· Policy initiatives should be devised and implemented to support and promote community media at regional, national, and transnational levels, such as tax incentives, production funds, and legislation supporting the creation of co-operatives and other not-for-profit organizational forms.
· Communication policy development and international investment in information and communication technologies must consistently include support for community-based media such as “must carry” regulations.
I) legal recognition of community- not for profit- media as 3rd sector in the media landscape
II) support for the development of free, independent, community media
III) funding for the production of audio and visual materials
IV) support for free, independent, community media where it is under threat or in countries where it is weak or non-existent
The participants of the FM@dia Forum 04 are committed to fostering connection and solidarity between different community media across EUROPE and beyond.
Prague/Freistadt, June 2004