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Tag Archives: Media Law

Latin American media policies are shaped by two historical facts. First, Latin American political systems started to open up in the late 1980s. Liberal democratic politics are thus a comparatively recent development (Smith, 2005). In the majority of countries, media systems had been controlled by corporate media groups with close ties to authoritarian regimes and dictatorships (Fox, 1989; Mastrini & Becerra, 2005). Most of the Communication Acts in the region were set in this context. Consequently, there were no national trajectories of public service broadcasting development. To illustrate the panorama of Latin American media policy, I propose the following international coordinates of observation (Gómez, 2012). At one pole, some countries accord a central role to market logic, whereby light handed regulation favors powerful economic agents, and public authorities hold a referee status. This policy framework has been implemented since the late 80s (Schiller, 1990) and forms part of a larger process called marketization (Murdock & Wasko, 2007). At the opposite pole are normative public policies which seek to reform national communication systems against the following principles: a) constitutionally entrenched rights of communication; b) legal support for the growth of third sector media (community and indigenous media, non-profit associations, etc.). Such support includes spectrum allowances and specific licensing arrangements; c) de-concentration of media ownership. Together these tendencies constitute a de-commodification of communication policies. In other words, the hegemony of the market logic over the media system is challenged by social and community actors. Of course, the different national processes of media reform in Latin America may incorporate a mixture of elements from the two poles. Identifying these poles of development help provide answers to the following questions: How should the freedom of expression be guaranteed? What or whom is restricting the freedom of expression?

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MLRC’s first conference on Legal Issues Concerning Hispanic and Latin American Media is designed to provide lawyers from North America and Latin America a unique opportunity to meet and educate one another on the issues that arise in cross-border content creation, newsgathering, and distribution.

“We agreed on the important role a free and independent media should play in Somalia, and welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the killing of journalists, and to promote press freedom.”
(Somalia Conference 2013: Official Communiqué at GOV.UK.)

Yesterday’s conference communiqué was unambiguous on the need to protect the media in Somalia. Here’s a selection of the international groups working on media policy issues in Somalia, and a couple of recent reports about the media environment in the country – let us know via the comments what we’re missing, and we’ll update the list.

EU fact sheet from Dec 2012 detailing some of the activities of the Somalia Media Support Group of donors, NGOs, and international organisations, and insights into the future strategy for supporting Somalia’s media sector to 2015
CIMA‘s compilation of where Somalia sits in various international press freedom rankings
– Somalia sits in 2nd position in the CPJ’s Impunity Index for killings of journalists
Article 19 has been tracking the development of Somalia’s media law, and recently held a conference on protection of journalists in Mogadishu
– the BBC’s media development arm, BBC Media Action, produced a media environment analysis and a policy briefing about the role of the media in 2011
– the InfoAsAid project we featured a couple of weeks ago includes a pretty comprehensive Somalia media/telecoms landscape report from early 2012 (also here)
– the Center for Law and Democracy published a media law and policy review for Somalia in late 2012 (here’s a piece from Albany Associates about the report)
– Albany Associates is also supporting the government and the UN’s AMISOM more broadly on communications
NORAGRIC is a less usual source for media landscape information, but here’s their March 2012 report on Somalia
– Danish NGO IMS supports a Somali radio station, Radio Ergo
Global Voices covers Somalia with reasonable regularity, as has the Guardian‘s Data Blog

And finally, here are some stats on social media usage in Somalia, courtesy of Social Bakers.

Numerous journalists have fallen foul of the law over the last year. Adil Soz has recorded 19 assaults on journalists and 17 criminal cases including 11 libel suits, one allegation of inciting social unrest and one of encouraging ethnic hate. Aside from criminal prosecutions, over 100 journalists faced civil libel suits. Adil Soz also counted 180 cases where access to websites, online forums and blogs was denied.
The media sector as a whole is becoming more biddable as a result of heavy state funding – almost 90 per cent of media outlets are recipients of public money to varying extents. That makes it easy to demand that they toe the line, killing competition, encouraging self-censorship and resulting in a situation where it is hard to tell commercial and state-run media content apart.

Numerous journalists have fallen foul of the law over the last year. Adil Soz has recorded 19 assaults on journalists and 17 criminal cases including 11 libel suits, one allegation of inciting social unrest and one of encouraging ethnic hate. Aside from criminal prosecutions, over 100 journalists faced civil libel suits. Adil Soz also counted 180 cases where access to websites, online forums and blogs was denied.
The media sector as a whole is becoming more biddable as a result of heavy state funding – almost 90 per cent of media outlets are recipients of public money to varying extents. That makes it easy to demand that they toe the line, killing competition, encouraging self-censorship and resulting in a situation where it is hard to tell commercial and state-run media content apart.