By Sasha Costanza-Chock PARIS, France, 04 February 2005
Government delegates are meeting in Paris, from January 31 to February 12th, to negotiate the near-final text of the proposed UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity.
The Convention is meant to protect each country’s ability to make media and cultural policy that favors cultural diversity – for example, strong support for public service, nonprofit, and community media; local ownership requirements; language requirements; dedicated airtime for local films and music; grants and support for local musicians, filmmakers, and other cultural workers, and a range of other measures. If successful, the convention could provide a kind of legal defense against attacks on media and cultural diversity under the so-called ‘free trade’ deals.
However, there’s a danger that big media lobbyists will succeed in pressuring governments to either water down the convention until it’s useless, or worse, transform it into a stepping stone to bring media and cultural policy fully into the mandate of the World Trade Organization. Also troubling is language that recently snuck into the draft text that would support the global export of US-style, maximalist copyright law, further erode the public domain, and undermine the creative commons.
Free Press is in Paris, working with the campaign for Communication Rights in the Information Society, the International Network for Cultural Diversity, and other civil society groups to push for a strong Convention that is not subordinate to the ‘free trade’ deals, that respects and promotes cultural diversity within countries as well as between them, and that balances any references to the rights of copyright owners with references to the rights of the public.
Free Press will be publishing regular updates on the negotiation process at http://www.mediatrademonitor.org