Open spectrum, same struggle for open access?

ROME, Italy

Interestingly enough, being present at the first Communication for Development (C4D, in NGO slang) conference in Rome gives me some insights for the upcoming Internet Governance Forum, a space where the future is supposed to be discussed.
Interestingly enough, being present at the first Communication for Development (C4D, in NGO slang) conference in Rome gives me some insights for the upcoming Internet Governance Forum, a space where the future is supposed to be discussed.

I got hold of Steve Buckley between two meetings and asked him why his organisation would not be present at the GenderIT.org. ">internet

governance forum. The long time community radio advocate with the association AMARC said that he, like many others, is an open spectrum advocate, and that what’s counts for him at this point, is to make sure the allocation of broadcasting licenses being discussed at the United Nations ITU (International Telecom Union) is made in an open spectrum fashion.

“Nothing tells me that the IP protocol will be the model of future broadcasting,” he said. “I was at a conference in Paris last week where the French government released a document in which they listed more than 10 different broadcasting models for the future.” In this climate of uncertainty, AMARC, it appears, prefers to play a role there where the ground is already solid.

“The US is now saying, let the broadcasting spectrum to the market, let the market forces determine the price to pay for a license.” This is definitely a departure from traditional state-steered license allocation regimes.

“It’s funny,” added Buckley, “our perspective in the community media sector is coming from a strongly regulated environment, and trying to open up to a more open modus operandi.” The social internet advocates on the other hand, so he says, come from the other end. They have experienced a largely free flow of information kind of regulatory model for the internet and are only now starting to contemplate a potentially controlled environment for online communications. That’s interesting enough. That give you pointers as to the value of the Internet Governance Forum, as seen from other non-governmental and activist perspectives.

Buckley just said one more thing, which I think makes rather sense, big time. “Since you, [at APC] come from the internet background and we at AMARC come from the radio broadcasting one, we can tell you about the worst case scenarios with regards to controlled and censured broadcasting environments while you can warn us of the possible abuses on the other hand with completely market-based free flow models.”

The APC is going to have a really important number of participants in next week’s Internet Governance Forum in Athens and discuss things like “openness” or “security” with governments and the private sector. AMARC clearly can benefit from APC’s work and advocacy there. Same goes for the ITU space where AMARC will be advancing civil society interests and concretely situating C4D.

I’m just asking myself what the APC and AMARC are doing in Rome for the C4D congress, a space suffering from an ill-defined agenda and a truly vague orientation.


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