MacBride Commission

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The MacBride Commission so-named for its president Sean MacBride, was officially designated UNESCO's International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems.

Stewart M. Hoover, in his All Power to the Conglomerate. If Information Is a Commodity, What Price Is International Understanding? published by theCenter for Media Literacy, wrote in the Winter 1993 issue:

Many Voices

"Implicit in these discussions (called the 'New World Order in Communication') was the idea that communicators, in order to authentically contribute to cultural and social understanding, must first serve social and cultural development. That is, that before nations and peoples could enter into global dialogue, they first needed the resources, skills and opportunity to enter that dialogue more or less as equals.

"Principal voices in the debate pointed out that severe imbalances in the distribution of global information resources and expertise often resulted not in a global village of equals, but a global oligarchy of rulers (the nations and institutions of the North) and subjects (the nations and institutions of the South).

"A commission of UNESCO empaneled to study this problem under the leadership of Irish statesman Sean MacBride made this assessment of the situation as early as 1978:

"'We can sum up by saying that in the communication industry there are a relatively small number of predominant corporations which integrate all aspects of production and distribution, which are based in the leading developed countries and which have become transnational in their operations.' In the decades since, growth and consolidation of these conglomerates has only accelerated; they are larger and their reach is greater than ever.

"The report of the MacBride Commission, as it was often called, went on to note that, not surprisingly, this corporate dominance favored the objectives of commercial profit over the objectives of social and cultural development.

"In the early 1990s, nearly? 15 years after this commission issued its report, the imbalance between the players remains much the same, but developments in technology and political changes have made major changes in the playing field."

In 1994, it was concluded that "research papers presented at the Honolulu [MacBride] Round Table amply demonstrate that the issues addressed by the MacBride Commission are still there, and that the problems identified in the Commission's recommendations have barely been addressed, let alone resolved. On the contrary, many international problems have compounded themselves and are ever more intractable."[1]

At the 4th Convention of the German Open Channels held November 13-16, 1997, in Berlin, The Berlin Declaration cited the MacBride Commission report: "... in the spirit of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the MacBride Commission, the right to communicate - including the right to expression - must be recognised and defended as inalienable for individuals and peoples and as indispensable to the democratisation of societies."

"In the early 1980s, it became quite obvious that the creation of a more equitable system of access to media and communication technologies was a priority. This New World Information Order was based on the 1978 report of UNESCO's International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems, known as the MacBride Commission after its president Sean MacBride."

"For many years, the cultural and financial dependence of developing areas on dominant economic powers (such as the US or southern Canada) had hindered the development of the type of local television that might have had the potential to better serve the interests of viewers. According to the MacBride Commission, equal opportunities in communication were part of the basic human rights in the same way as freedom of expression. Besides, it was urgent for developing areas to be given the technological and financial means to produce their own programming and thus preserve their cultures and identities with a greater independence and self-reliance concerning television production."

Taken from The Inuit in the Global Village web site.

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