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Panpa Bulletin : August 2006
6 | PANPA bULLETIN august 2006 A series of Commonwealth Press Union seminars has found a demand for a support agency to help countries wishing to set up independent press councils. The CPU's report on the issue, Imperfect Freedom: The case for self-regulation in the Com- monwealth Press, identifies five categories of client press indus- tries in need of help and offers recommendations on what help can be provided. Highest priority for support is for Category One - the Front Line: states in confrontation with hostile governments, as in Zimbabwe and Cameroon. Help should be full, moral, specialist and training back-up as available and as required, according to the report. Category Two -- the New Deal- ers: includes pace-setting states such as Kenya, Nigeria and Sri Lanka which have embarked on comprehensive self-regulatory schemes. Help should be by way of full specialist and training back-up, seminars, introductions to donors and bridge building with government and civil soci- ety, as required. Category Three -- the Con- verts: are those nations which already have state regulation or dysfunctional voluntary schemes such as Malawi and Mozambique which are ripe for conversion to fully operational self-regulation regimes. Support would come through full specialist and train- ing back-up, diagnostic seminars, introductions to donors and bridge-building liaison with government and civil society as required. Category Four -- the Gentle Persuaders: calling for advance guard educational work in states such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, or even India, where the self-reg- ulatory concept is relatively un- known but where there might be fertile ground for co-operation. Introductory seminars for indus- try, government and civil society and liaison with the industry and government, are proposed in support. Category Five -- the Do-it- Yourselfer's: or home-grown but bonafide self-regulatory solutions such as the Caribbean initiative for a regional formula. Suggested help ranges from strong moral commitment to customised seminars, if needed. Recommendations include: • A range of CPU follow-up visits and seminars at a national level • Liaison with other partners, such as universities, non-govern- ment organisations, donor or- ganisations and media institutes • Visits and seminars should address local problems, accord- ing to local circumstances, like industry disunity, funding, hostile governments, sceptical civil soci- ety and absence of training • Specific seminars should be developed to cover freedom and responsibility so that the balance of competing interests is un- derstood from the outset. These should also be part of wider train- ing programs • Attempts should be made to liaise with possible donors, such as the World Bank and the British Council, to identify likely sourcing of funds and conditions of funding • Possible mentor countries should be identified and areas of possible cross-border co-opera- tion pursued • Help-pack floppy disc kits should be provided to assist start-ups, including a model code template which could be easily adapted to local circumstances • A CPU self-regulation dedi- cated website should be set up with links on codes, individual national systems, information sharing and problem solving The CPU seminars revealed a huge need for independent press councils as a way of pre-empt- ing governments intent on using complaints against the media as an excuse for shackling it, the report said. But the seminars also revealed the press was often divided against itself and lacked funds to set up press councils. The govern- ments were often hostile. Civil society could also be uncom- prehending of a new concept in consumer protection and dispute reconciliation. Press industries often had only hazy notions of how the system might work or of the responsibili- ties that went with self-regulation. Authors of the report say the CPU is ready to act as a lead body in co-ordinating a program of self-regulatory development around the Commonwealth but, without sources of funding, a vital opportunity to reshape and reinforce press freedom could be lost. Words not enough to help world’s developing press the Commonwealth Press union has come up with a strategy to ensure independent press gets support in smaller nations writes Warren Page Attempts should be made to liaise with possible donors, such as the World bank and the british Council, to identify likely sourcing of funds and conditions of funding Australia's Audit Bureau of Cir- culations has started the hunt for its first audit inspector -- a key new post that will support the stricter audit rules applying to the coun- try's print and online media indus- try from July 1. The inspector's role under the new rules includes management of a rolling compliance program nationally, as well as doing spot- check audits of publishers' circula- tion figures. "The role will champion the new rules and work closely with ABC publisher members and approved auditors to confirm the integrity of their published circulation figures," applicants have been told. "An intuitive understanding of the industry and a technical foundation in circulation issues" is required and while audit experi- ence is strongly desirable, "of more importance is a commercial un- derstanding of circulation matters acquired through a related career in print media." The inspector, who will be re- quired to make interstate visits, will report to the ABC's executive direc- tor in Sydney and work directly for the executive committee. Inspector wanted TheWorldAssociation ofNewspa- pers and World Editors Forum have called on the Chinese government to free a journalist who was jailed for two years for publishing an essay on democracy and freedom. In a letter to Premier Wen Jiabao, the Paris-based organisations also said they were concerned over the recent deterioration of press free- dom in China, where at least 32 jour- nalists and 51 'cyber-dissidents' are currently imprisoned. The latest is Li Yuanlong, a jour- nalist with the Bijie Daily in Guizhou province, who was convicted of "inciting subversion of state sover- eignty" and sentenced to two years in prison after he posted essays on overseas websites banned in China. One of the essays, entitled "On Be- coming an American in Spirit", ex- pressed the desire for democracy and freedom. Mr Li also reported on the plight of marginalised farmers and the unemployed. Wan urges release of Chinese journo