Paris, 16 December - The rise of Internet giants, the explosion of social networks, the digital revolution - all profoundly changing the methods of production and dissemination of cultural goods such as music, film and books. Since the adoption of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the world’s cultural landscape has changed considerably. Presented at UNESCO on 16 December, the Report Re|Shaping Cultural Policies explores these changes and the policy impact of the Convention.
Adopted by UNESCO in 2005, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions came into force in 2007. It now has 141 signatory States and the European Union.
Industrialized nations hold the biggest stake in exports
Encouraging an equal flow of cultural goods and services from the developing world is a key guiding principle of the Convention. However, ten years after the adoption of the Convention, the sector remains largely dominated by industrialized countries.
Out of the $212.8 billion in global exports of cultural goods, 46.7% is from developing nations, this compared to 25.6% in 2004. However, this overall picture is distorted by cultural exports mainly from China and India, as these two countries are increasingly competing with developed nations. Without them, the market share of the developing countries for world exports of cultural goods increased by merely 5% between 2004 and 2013.
Developed countries are increasingly importing music and audio-visual goods from developing countries. The share of these imported goods in developed countries represented 39.6% in 2013. Books and publishing form the second largest group, with 32.3% of the share of imports from developing countries.
The expansion of social networks and user-produced content, the growing use of connected multimedia devices, and the explosion in the quantity of data available have led to the emergence of new actors and new rationales. This revolution is by no means confined to industrialized countries, many regions in the global south have made considerable progress, particularly in the field of connectivity. In Africa, the penetration rate for mobile telephony increased threefold between 2007 and 2012.
Technology also provides an opportunity for new voices to make themselves heard in public service media. We are seeing an emergence of new actors, including citizen journalists and amateur film producers, who are redefining the boundaries of journalism. Likewise, the enthusiasm of young people for film creation has been greater. The production of fiction film in developing countries rose significantly between 2005 and 2010, up from 3% in 2005 to 24% in 2013, while the production of documentaries rose from 1% to 25% over the same period.
But these changes are occurring in part to the detriment of linguistic diversity. Indeed, 80% of linguistic content available on the internet is in English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, German, Arabic, French, Russian, and Korean. Another challenge identified by the Report: the rise of Internet giants may undermine access to a diversity of cultural choices, particularly in language choice. “Although the platforms provide a wide range of cultural offerings, the fact that they control not only sales but also the communication and algorithms of recommendations raises the problem of discoverability,” the Report emphasizes.
Faced with these developments, some signatory countries to the Convention have adopted measures to support creative professionals and industries. Examples include the establishment of a guaranteed income from the Norwegian government for artists. The Côte d’Ivoire, for its part, adopted measures in 2013 to promote publishing and reading. In Argentina, the law of 2009 on audiovisual communications services made it possible to increase local content on the country’s channels by 28%.
The Report also underlines that the Convention is increasingly used in major free trade agreements to give recognition to the specificity of cultural goods and services. But much progress remains to be achieved in other areas, particularly to encourage the role of women in certain cultural professions, to facilitate the mobility of artists from developing countries, and incorporating culture in sustainable development strategies.
The Report, produced with the financial support of the Swedish government within the framework of the project “Enhancing Fundamental Freedoms through the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions”, was compiled based on reports provided by 71 signatory countries and supplemented by various studies. It examines the impact of the Convention in the light of its four objectives: support sustainable cultural governance systems; achieve a balanced exchange of cultural goods and services and increase mobility; include culture within sustainable development frameworks; and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Interviews available on request with English, French and Spanish speaking experts.
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Media Contact: Agnès Bardon, UNESCO Press Service. Tel.: +33 (0)1 45 68 17 64,