Media Law Roundup 9/7

//CGCS Media Wire delivers a weekly round up of top international Media Law & Policy news chronologically. Follow along as the stories develop, catch up on what you may have missed!

//Photocredit: Associated Press

  • Australia’s Online and Traditional Media Subject to new censorship via Finkelstein Report, etc.

8/29 A Freedom of Information request for material relating to the Finkelstein media inquiry is set to become a precedent-setter concerning the fees levied to access documents and the definition of the public interest.Opposition Senate leader Eric Abetz will appeal to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner over the refusal of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to waive fees and documents on appointments to the media inquiry headed by former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein. Read on…

9/6 The digital revolution has undermined the business model of much traditional media. Its effects are exemplified in recent dramatic announcements by Australia’s two largest print media groups. Broadcasters and pay-TV also face an uncertain future. In such a context, we are now seeing more frequent expressions of anxiety about public broadcasters competing with commercial interests. There is nothing new about this. Public broadcasters have always had an adverse impact on such interests. Read on…

9/6 News Limited chief Kim Williams has hit out at proposed media reforms, claiming they threaten free speech and devalue media companies.Mr Williams says he fears that media reforms proposed by the federal government’s Finkelstein and Convergence reviews threaten press freedom and the economic value of media companies.The Convergence Review has called for a new communications regulator as well as a controversial public interest test for prospective media company owners to help protect diversity. Read on…

9/7 The first public performance by the new ABC chair Jim Spigelman, rehearsed at the RIPE2012 conference on Wednesday morning , and reprised in a Tony Jones interview on Lateline on Wednesday night, opens some interesting questions for the future direction of the broadcaster – or in the new digital world, for one of Australia’s two public service media. His appointment occurs in a context where two government inquiries – on convergence (Boreham) and on regulation (Finkelstein) – have offered totally opposed future pathways in terms of the responsibility of media companies.

9/7 …Perhaps true to its origins, Finkelstein recommended a draconian super-regulator with sweeping powers to pass judgment on press reporting. The new body it recommended would not need to publish reasons for its decisions, nor would those decisions be appealable. Journalists could be fined and even jailed. It also recommended the regulator should be funded by government which would mean inevitable government control. The Convergence Review’s recommendations were less intrusive but they still contemplated unhealthy levels of government oversight.

  • Ukraine sees Media Freedom Reform

9/3 “Ukraine has made its way, without exaggeration, from total censorship to an open society,” Yanukovich told the conference as his security guards ripped banners saying “Stop censorship” from protesters’ hands. Yanukovich did not react to the silent protest. Ukrainian opposition and Western rights watchdogs have accused Yanukovich of cracking down on media freedom after coming to power in the former Soviet republic in early 2010.

9/4 Top Ukrainian journalists interrupted President Viktor Yanukovych’s speech on press rights Monday, protesting increasing media censorship by the authorities. About a dozen reporters rose from their seats and held up posters reading “Stop Censorship” and “Media Oligarchs Serve the Authorities.” Security guards violently ripped them out of the hands of some protesters. Yanukovych was speaking at the opening of the annual World Newspaper Congress, a meeting of dozens of news executives from around the world that has complained of waning press freedoms in the former Soviet state.

9/6 The World Newspaper Congress has come and gone in Kyiv, but its influence could have a positive effect on the nation and its news media for a long time to come. The Sept. 2-5 event brought together about 1,000 of the most influential publishers, CEOs, journalists and media professionals from all over the world. The focus was to share industry knowledge of best practices. Read on for more coverage.

9/6 The government has been constantly improving legislation that is related to the principles of access to public information, said President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych in his speech at the opening of the 64th World Newspaper Forum and the 19th World Forum of Editors in Kyiv (September 2-5, 2012). Those public officials who impede access to public information will face administrative and criminal charges, assured head of state. In his address the Ukrainian president stressed that because of the soviet heritage, country’s young age, political and economic crisis there is still a false stereotype regarding the lack of freedom of speech in Ukraine. Read on…

  • ICT, Online Freedom gaining traction in Africa

9/5 The real goal behind ICT service delivery and technology application in Africa is to achieve broadband penetration to empower citizens and boost economies. Alcatel-Lucent’s Karl Bream engages with the media at this year’s Telkom SA SATNAC. (Image: Alcatel-Lucent) Alcatel-Lucent was a diamond sponsor of the Telkom SA 2012 Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC). Management of the global services provider in mobile, fixed, IP and optics technologies has spoken of the societal change and the drivers behind this change, including urbanisation.

9/6 Kenya is hosting the second annual Freedom Online Conference which will focus on building stronger support for Internet freedom, while articulating the importance of Internet freedom for development and governance. The two-day conference brings together over 400 stakeholders from the global ICT industry to discuss issues affecting freedom of Internet users in Kenya and US Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Michael Posner said the meeting aims to get more Kenyans to leverage the economic and social benefit of the Internet without inhibitions. “We are ensuring that the evolving information and communication technologies remain the foundation of an open global platform for exchange where people can exercise their rights and not a tool used to spy on or silence citizens,” he said.

9/6 The Little Data Book on Information and Communication Technology 2012, a joint venture publication between the World Bank and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) illustrates the progress of the ICT revolution for 216 economies around the world. It provides comparable statistics on the sector for 2005 and 2010 across a range of indicators, enabling readers to readily compare economies. This book includes indicators covering the economic and social context, the structure of the information and communication technology sector, sector efficiency and capacity, and sector performance related to access, usage, quality, affordability, trade, and applications.

9/7 Kenya ICT Board and Kenya IT and Outsourcing Services (KITOS), the country’s new IT industry body, have jointly sealed a partnership with technology event organiser AITEC Africa as host partners for the upcoming East Africa ICT Summit,set to take place in Nairobi from 24-25 October 2012. With the theme “Smart Cities, Smart Communities, Smart Enterprises,” the 2012 edition of the East Africa ICT Summit will include a focus on smart city management. IBM, which are the “Smart Solutions Partner” for the summit is among a range of solution providers that are expected to stage tech solutions and demos.

 

9/7 The Head of the Media Law Policy and Advocacy program at the Regional Secretariat of the Media Institution of Southern Africa (MISA), Karen Mohan recently said there should be transparency of information if Namibia is to fight corruption. Mohan shared her findings in a document titled ‘ Sunlight is the best disinfectant: Why Namibia Needs access to information” which was launched by the Institute for Public Policy Research recently. Access to information has been on the Namibian policy agenda for over a decade, but despite renewed commitment to the enactment of legislation, an Access to Information law is still not in place.

9/7  “We are proud to be the first African country to host this conference which confirms the country’s leading role in adoption of ICT in the region. More and more Kenyans are adopting the use of the Internet both as a social and business communication tool,” Poghisio said. The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, said the conference would provide stakeholders with a perfect opportunity to discuss how Kenyans could start using the Internet to drive entrepreneurship. “Kenyans mostly use the Internet for social communications without realizing the entrepreneurial value of the resource. Such a forum will help open the eyes of local youths to the business opportunities that can be exploited through the Internet,” Dr Ndemo said.

  • Beirut Digital District raising the right questions

9/4 On Monday a new technology center opened its doors in the heart of Beirut with the aim of creating a hub for technology, attracting foreign investment and helping retain young and talented Lebanese. The Beirut Digital District, a high-rise building in the Bashoura district with 3,200 square meters of office space, just footsteps from Downtown, is promising to offer advanced infrastructure – including broadband Internet and state-of-the-art information technology facilities. The hub also aims to become a center for IT startups. It will be the third of its kind, after Berytech’s facilities in Mar Makallas at St. Joseph University and near the National Museum.

9/4 The center is a high-rise building in the Bashoura district with 3,200 square meters of office space, is promising to offer advanced infrastructure – including broadband Internet and state-of-the-art information technology facilities according to local reports. The center also aims at becoming a center for IT startups. Mikati said that his cabinet was determined to “perform its duties and keep Lebanon on the technology map. ” He also said that the Beirut Digital District project showed a “real partnership between the public and private sectors.”

9/7  Much of politics, little of technology! This is the impression one would get from following the launch of “Beirut Digital District,” which is a good step but it needs more explaining, clarification and marketing.  It needs this because the information communications technology sector is one of the prominent economic development, innovative and technological sectors in Lebanon, a country which “believes in knowledge economies” as Prime Minister Najib Mikati said. But there should not be a mix of technological needs and political agendas and there should not be an exaggeration in the promises to “compete with Dubai” by creating a small and modest “Digital District” as Information Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said.

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