Related topics

Broadcasters Feel Left Out of Net Summit

December 8, 2003

GENEVA (AP) _ The representatives of 192 nations expected here this week for summit on the Internet’s future are neglecting vital issues tied to TV and radio, say international broadcasters who are holding a parallel meeting.

Organizers said the four-day media gathering that begins Tuesday is turning out to be essential because their concerns _ and those of TV viewers and radio listeners _ have been sidelined at the technology-heavy Internet summit.

Guillaume Cheneviere, executive director of the media forum and a former head of Switzerland’s state-owned TSR TV station, said broadcasters feel the so-called World Summit on the Information Society will be like a ``conference on agriculture without farmers.″

``The summit will focus neither on information nor society, despite its name,″ added David Lewis, spokesman for the European Broadcasting Union, a co-sponsor of the media meeting. He said it ``will be the only place where the real issues will be discussed.″

For example, workshops at the media forum consider how the Internet has influenced radio and television, the challenge it poses for public service broadcasters, and how to ensure it does not undermine cultural and language diversity.

Discussions also will center on press freedom.

Lewis said such issues ought to be discussed at the information summit as well because radio and TV, not the Internet, will remain dominant means of mass communication in many poor countries for decades.

Like the Internet event, the broadcasters’ World Electronic Media Forum is also sponsored by the United Nations and is being held at the same Geneva conference center.

Although U.S. networks are not taking part, the Canadian-based North American Broadcasters’ Association, WBAI Pacifica Radio, the British Broadcasting Corp. and state-owned broadcasters from France, Russia and Japan are among the 360 organizations from 112 countries expected to attend.

The Internet meeting, set to begin Wednesday, has already been riven by discord over whether the United Nations should have more control of the Internet _ and who will pay for getting more poor nations online.

For now, key Internet-related decisions are made by a private, U.S.-based organization of technical and business experts known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. Some developing nations have said they would like a U.N. body to regulate the Internet, but industrialized countries are leery.

About 60 heads of state were expected to attend the Internet summit, mainly from the developing world. The United States planned to send a lower-level delegation.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, one of the most prominent expected from Europe, backed out at the last minute. Cuban President Fidel Castro also decided against coming, officials at the Cuban diplomatic mission in Geneva said Monday.


On the Net:

World Summit on the Information Society, http://www.itu.int/wsis

World Electronic Media Forum, http://www.wemfmedia.org

Update hourly