Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Broadcasting, Voice and Accountability

Media plays an important political role by publicizing government actions, providing checks and balances to those actions and giving citizens an outlet for expression. These functions are particularly important in developing countries, where fledgling governments struggle to find a balance between maintaining control and improving quality of life for their citizens. To facilitate the role of the radio and television in development, the World Bank published “Broadcasting, Voice and Accountability: A Public Interest Approach to Policy, Law and Regulation.” Steve Buckley, Kreszentia Duer, Toby Mendel and Seán Ó Siochrú, authors of the book, explained its purpose and importance to development efforts at a recent launch event.

The book outlines the key elements of effective broadcasting regulations, and provides examples of best practices from a wide range of countries. It is intended to help governments increase the amount of unrestricted, community-based broadcasting that promotes public interest.

Broadcast media is critical to development because it increases social engagement. Through news reports, citizens can be more informed about both their country and their government’s actions. At the same time, they can fight back against government actions that they oppose. Eric Chinje, one of the evaluators of the book, shared his experiences of the power of media at a television station in Cameroon in the 1980’s. After just one year of widespread television programming, the citizens of Cameroon knew much more about the different regions of their country and developed a stronger sense of national identity. Later, his TV crew broadcasted footage of numerous government and military officials disobeying traffic laws. Soon after this story aired, the previous traffic safety problems became almost nonexistent.

The public must have the opportunity to create independent radio and television stations that broadcast freely in order to hold their governments accountable. This book, with its combination of recommendations and case study examples, offers guidance for developing countries to create a media that is organized under law but still offers an atmosphere of free expression.

Sponsor: The World Bank Infoshop
Date: June 17, 2008
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Representative Attending: Kate Lonergan

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