Supporting media diversity through the 2005 Convention

In celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, a joint launch of UNESCO’s two new global reports, Re|Shaping Cultural Policies” and the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report was organized in Jakarta, Indonesia on 8 May. Gathering artists, human rights activists and media professionals, the event highlighted the need to uphold all rights, including press and artistic freedoms, to secure the free flow of ideas in all parts of the world.

Artists and journalists are often confronted by the same threats to their freedom of expression. These include laws on anti-terrorism, insult and blasphemy, which can have an overall negative impact on freedom of expression. According to UNESCO’s latest global reports, attacks against journalists and artists have continued to rise. Between 2014 and 2016, 314 journalists were killed and 860 attacks against artists were recorded. Such attacks jeopardize citizens’ right to access of information as encapsulated in Sustainable Development Goal 16 Target 10 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Against this backdrop, the joint launch event of UNESCO’s new global reports and the 2017 Indonesian Press Freedom Index, called for the joint action of media and cultural professionals to work together in advocating for press and artistic freedoms. The event, gathering 120 attendees, was opened by Mr Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Office in Jakarta, Yosep Adi Pasetyo, Chairperson of the Indonesian Press Council, H.E., Ms Johanna Brismar Skoog, Ambassador for Sweden in Jakarta, Mr Hilma Farid, Director General for Culture (DG Culture) at the Ministry of Education and Culture and H.E., Mr. Rudiantara, Minister of Communications and Informatics.

“Democracy is not given – it is something that needs continuous work, nurture and care. Supporting press freedom, artistic freedom, and media diversity are at the heart of this process as shown in these two reports,” said Johanna Brismar Skoog.

“Policies that support the diversity of cultural expression must be based on fundamental freedoms as outlined in UNESCO’s 2005 Convention. As such, freedom of expression is at the center of cultural policies in Indonesia,” underlined Hilma Farid.

Media diversity for the diversity of cultural expressions

One of the two panel discussions of the event focused on the issue of media diversity. The media are enablers, producers, commissioners, distributors, disseminators and mediators of a vibrant array of cultural and artistic contents whatever the means and technologies used. As such, media diversity is crucial for the promotion of the diversity of cultural expression and is recognized as a key indicator for monitoring the implementation of the UNESCO 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

The panelists highlighted the importance of strengthening domestic production to achieve balance between local contents and regional and international contents. Attention was also placed on the gender dimension of media diversity, noting the widespread underrepresentation of women in media organizations.  

In conjunction with the launch event, UNESCO also organized a media diversity training workshop on 9 March, led by Mr Charles Vallerand, member of the 2005 Convention Expert Facility. The workshop, gathering some 30 government officials and media and cultural professionals, addressed topics related to media ownership, diversity of content, media freedom and emerging issues such as the effect of algorithmic filtering on the discoverability of online cultural content.

“Media diversity forces us to rethink how we give voice and portray communities, ethnic groups, minorities, indeginous peoples, gender-parity.... both on- and off-screen. Media is possibly the most influential of all cultural industries, for its important cultural and economic contribution, but also as a pilar of national cohesion and identity,” underlined Charles Vallerand

The workshop is part of the project “Enhancing fundamental freedom through the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions” supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).