Press Releases

    PI/1687
    14 November 2005

    Role of Electronic Media in New Information Society to Be Focus of International Forum in Tunis, 15-16 November

    Broadcasting Industry Leaders from Five Continents to Take Part; UN Secretary-General Will Submit Conclusion to World Summit Alongside

    NEW YORK, 11 November (UN Headquarters) -- Top broadcasters and information specialists from around the world will convene in Tunis next week (15 and 16 November) for the second World Electronic Media Forum, where they will discuss the key role of radio, television and the new electronic media in the evolving information society.  The Electronic Media Forum is a parallel event to the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, which will take place in the Tunisian capital on 16-18 November.

    "The Forum will evaluate the increasing role of broadcasting in shaping the information society and examine new opportunities arising from technological developments", said Jean Réveillon, Secretary-General of the European Broadcasting Union and chairman of the organizing body.

    "The course our world will take is not governed by States alone", said Forum panellist Shashi Tharoor, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.  "It is information that is fuelling the changes that are taking place, and the media have a vital part to play.  This is why we are meeting in parallel to the intergovernmental process."

    The 250 participants and 45 panellists from five continents who will take part in the Forum will, in the course of seven sessions, debate several questions in order to formulate recommendations.  The conclusions will be delivered to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who will address the closing session, for transmission to the World Summit.

    The Forum will focus on the following questions:

    -- as the safety of journalists in areas of conflict has become critical, what measures should be taken at the international level to ensure their protection?

    -- can broadcasters contribute, by combining traditional and new media, to attain the fairer and less unequal world envisaged by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals?

    -- how to utilize media technologies to enhance and preserve cultural diversity and foster dialogue among civilizations?

    -- is the evolution of societies more influenced by the content of programmes or by technological content?

    -- can broadcasters utilize the new information and communication technology without improving working methods and professional training?

    -- how can public authorities be persuaded that, by mobilizing the necessary resources, it would be possible to use state-of-the-art technologies to save cultural treasures too often deteriorating?

    Forum participants will include Robert Rabinovitch, President and CEO of Canada's CBC/Radio; Yoshimori Imai, Executive Editor of Japan's NHK; Kevin Ejiofor, Acting Director General of Nigeria's Federal Radio Corporation; Nakhla Haj, Chief Editor of Dubai's Al Arabiya; and Roberto Morrione, Director-General of Italy's RAInews 24.

    Also attending will be Burchell Whiteman, Jamaica's Minister of Information; Abdelhafidh Harguem and Habib Chawki Hamraoui, the Director-General and the President of the Arab States Broadcasting Union; Arne Wessberg, President of the European Broadcasting Union; Walter Fust, Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; Melinda Quintos de Jesus, Executive Director of the Philippines' Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility; Maria Teresa Ronderos, President of Colombia's Foundation for the Freedom of the Press; Jose Antonio Ocampo, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and Abdul Waheed Khan, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    Mr. Khan of UNESCO stressed the need to build awareness on the diversity of media functions in the information society.  "Diversity of media functions can be achieved only if we ensure an environment allowing for a pluralistic media structure", he said.  "Global and local media should perform complementary functions in representing different ethno-cultural constituents and their aspirations."

    The event, to be held at to be held at Kram PalExpo in Tunis, is organized by the Arab States Broadcasting Union, the World Broadcasting Unions and the World Electronic Media Forum Association, with the support of the United Nations Department of Public Information and UNESCO and in cooperation with the European Broadcasting Union, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Global Knowledge Partnership, the International Federation of Television Archives, Canal France International, International Federation of Journalists and the International News Safety Institute.

    For further information, please visit http://www.wemfmedia.org  or contact or contact Patrick Jaquin, Communication Department, European Broadcasting Union, Tel:  + 41 (0) 22 717 20 33, e-mail jaquin@ebu.ch .

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