Spanish government internal memo suggest to end the recognition of community media
In response to the information published by eldiario.es an internal report from the Ministry of Industry on the call for licenses for Digital TV Platform in which it is proposed the elimination of community media from the legislation, AMARC Europe requires the Spanish government to clarify this situation.
As information published in the media suggest that the Ministry of Industry is considering removing the recognition of community media in the audiovisual law, we from the AMARC network of community radios, comprising 4000 community media in 130 countries want to express our concern and surprise at this attack on the citizens’ right to communicate. We would like to remind the Spanish government that:
- The legally recognized status of community media is not a government concession but the application of higher rules than those of the Spanish State, rules that promote and strengthen the recognition of the right to information and communication, as well as freedom of expression.
- That the existence of three broadcasting sectors (public, commercial/ private and community) has been recognized and proclaimed by the Freedom of Expression Rapporteurs of the UN, OSCE, Americas and Africa in 2001, 2007 and 2013.
- That this recognition applies to all broadcast platforms and demands of states adopting rules that do not cause delays in the transition to digital broadcasting.
- That in the early resolution of appeals to the Supreme Court, in order not to generate violations of the right to communicate, the Spanish government should refrain from causing changes in the system. Otherwise, the government will exceed the state discretion to withhold support to the implementation of those rights according to article 20.1 of the Constitution and Article 10 of the European Charter of Human Rights.
- The 14 principles for community media regulation presented by the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of opinion and expression Frank La Rue, before the UN General Assembly in its 2010 report, and approved by the Assembly do classified initiatives such as that would suggest from the Spanish State as a violation to citizens’ freedom of expression.
- The European Parliament by the European Directive on audiovisual media services in its resolution of 27 April 2006 (3) –which provides support to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions- states in particular that ‘cultural activities, goods and cultural services are of such economic and cultural, because they are identities, values and meanings carriers and must therefore not be treated as solely having commercial value “. Decision 2006/515 / EC of 18 May 2006 on the conclusion of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (4), approved on behalf of the Community that Unesco Convention. The Convention entered into force on 18 March 2007. This Directive respects the principles of that Convention. “
- That Article 2 The guiding principles of this Convention where highlights:
- Principle of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms “It is only possible to protect and promote cultural diversity if human rights are guaranteed and fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression, information and communication, and the ability of individuals to choose cultural expressions. No one may invoke the provisions of this Convention to infringe human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or guaranteed by international law, or to limit their scope. “
- Principle of equal access. Equitable access to a rich and diversified range of cultural expressions from all over the world and access of cultures to the means of expression and dissemination are important for enhancing cultural diversity and encouraging elements of mutual understanding. “
- The same convention understands that “Cultural diversity” refers to the manifold ways in which the cultures of groups and societies find expression. These expressions are passed on within and among groups and societies. Cultural diversity manifests itself only through the varied ways in which it is expresses, promotes and transmits humanity’s cultural heritage through a variety of cultural expressions but also through diverse modes of artistic creation, production, dissemination, distribution and enjoyment of cultural expressions, whatever the means and technologies used.
- International regulations on this topic arises from the conventions of the International Telecommunication Union, the specific articules in Recommendation 2 of ITU Resolution 69 (incorporated into the Geneva Accords of December 1992 and the Kyoto Convention in 1994) states: “taking into account the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union, aware of the noble principles of the free dissemination of information and the right to communicate is a basic community right, RECOMMENDES to States parties to facilitate the free dissemination of information by telecommunication services. “
- The right of every person to communicate through any means of audio-visual reproduction is stated in Article 20.1. of the Spanish Constitution. However, to this day, it is not guaranteed by the government.
- That the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the role of community media in promoting social cohesion and intercultural dialogue (adopted on February 11, 2009 during the 1048 meeting of ministerial delegates), expresses its conviction that community media “for its definition and nature close to the community serve many societal needs and perform functions that neither commercial or public media can implement or carry out complete and properly.” Likewise, the Declaration:
- “Recognizes community media as a distinct media sector, alongside public and private / commercial media and in this situation highlights the need to consider how to adapt the legal framework to facilitate the recognition and development of community media and the proper exercise its social functions.
- “Stresses the desirability of allocating to community media, to the extent possible, a sufficient number of frequencies in both analogue and digital environments, and ensuring that community broadcasting media are not disadvantaged by the transition to the digital environment;
- It stresses the need to develop and / or support educational and vocational programs for all communities in order to encourage them to make full use of available technology platforms; “
- The European Parliament resolution of 25 September 2008 European Union underlines the role of community media as useful and necessary to comply with the right to communicate and as a key player in media literacy training and the visibility of vulnerable groups. The resolution calls on member states to
- Without detriment to traditional media, to give legal recognition to community media as a distinct group alongside commercial and public media where such recognition does not exist.
- Support community media more actively to ensure media pluralism
- Facilitating access to radio and television frequencies, both analogue and digital, bearing in mind that the service provided by community media is not to be assessed in terms of cost or justification of the cost of the frequency but the social value they represent.
- That in most of the countries around us and in the most advanced democratic systems, community media are fully normalised reality, and are considered one of the indicators of the quality of a democratic state.
- That current legislation (Telecommunications Act 2010) established May 1, 2011 as the deadline to begin the procedure for allocating frequencies to third sector communication (community media).
- It should be remembered, finally, that the recognition of the right to communicate is also confirmed by the Constitutional Court (STC 6/1981). “Freedom of expression as proclaimed by art 20.1) is a fundamental right to be enjoyed equally by all citizens and protecting them against any interference by public powers that rely on the law, and even against the law itself whether it attempts to set other limits that those included in the Constitution (arts. 4 and 53.1).
“The same holds in what if refers to the right to communicate and receive truthful information (art. 20.1 d), a formula which, obviously, includes various rights, all intimately connected. The right to communicate, in a sense, can be considered as a single practical implementation of freedom of expression and the differentiated explication has only been included in recent constitutional texts, this is a right which is also enjoyed certainly by all citizens, although in practice serves mainly as safeguard to those who made of research and dissemination their profession; the right to receive information is in fact a redundancy (it is communication when the message has a potential recipient), whose inclusion in the Constitution it is warranted, however, by the purpose of maximizing the set of standing rules that can be used to challenge any disruption of the free media. ”
- The Government of Spain has been in breach of its own law more than four years, and this has facilitated all kind of irregularities being committed in public policies for community media. The office of the Ombudsman had noted the anomalous situation in its report of 2012, and has initiated an investigation to respect.
The publication of Diario.es has revealed this internal report, that we consider as a new and intolerable attack, not only to community media, but to the fundamental rights of the citizens themselves, and as such should be cause for resignation or dismissal of the authorities involved.
Considering this situation, AMARC supports the call of community media and asks the Spanish government to:
- Clarify and explain the content of the internal report which shows a clear ideological component though it was commissioned by a government and should safeguard the interests of the governed and not only those of a particular political ideology.
- Compliance with the telecommunications Act and the end of all actions against community media.
We also request the political parties represented in the Spanish parliament to exercise its control functions and make the government to know the precise extent of the government’s actions in this matter through parliamentary questions.
AMARC believes that the Spanish State should meet the commitments signed and ratified before the concert of nations to avoid international responsibility for violating rights enshrined in international law, and ratified its availability to its members and partners in future actions in defense of the right to communicate.