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Last month, the Global Network Initiative (GNI) – a multi-stakeholder coalition of ICT companies, civil society organisations, investors and academics – signed a cooperation agreement with another body called Industry Dialogue, or, to give it its full name, Telecommunications Industry Dialogue on Freedom of Expression and Privacy. Why should journalism and media policy people care about this? Two reasons…

First, as Rebecca Mackinnon has pointed out on this site before, a free, open internet is crucial for press and media freedom – and that includes the mobile internet: 

All news organisations – whether their final news product is distributed online, in print, or broadcast – are increasingly dependent on broadband and mobile networks to gather, transmit, compile, and disseminate their reports and investigations. Whether the internet remains open and globally inter-operable affects the ability of all news organisations to obtain fair access to increasingly global or geographically-dispersed audiences.

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So the long-standing debate about the independence of Italy’s public broadcaster, RAI – addressed in Mapping Digital Media: Italy, and by the Open Media Coalition, Italy’s media reform movement – has now received the Grillo treatment.

Italian comedian Beppe Grillo last week accelerated debate in Italy about the independence of broadcast media and journalism from political interests, releasing poll results showing that, out of 95,000 responses, 99% of respondents wanted a public broadcast channel free from political meddling, and 52% wanted to see more investigative journalism about domestic issues.

Under the hashtag #raisenzapartite (“RAI (the public broadcaster) without the parties”), Grillo wrote a blog post asserting that:

“a part of the Italian population is living in a gigantic “Truman show”, and responsibility for this is entirely due to Italian journalists, with the usual few exceptions and in a country like ours, these exceptions deserve every possible praise. […] RAI has to be reorganised and transformed into a public service following the model of the BBC without any connection to the parties, without advertising, producing quality content that has mainly been produced in-house and not like now, when it’s entrusted to external companies with the building up of one set of costs on top of another. In Parliament, the M5S, in accordance with its programme, will propose the establishment of a single RAI channel, without any connection to the parties and without advertising. It proposes the sale of the other channels.”

It’s sure to be a topic of conversation at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia in two weeks, as Italian journalism already is over at the LSE’s POLIS project. In the meantime, take another look at the MDM Report, which proposed a wider range of media reform measures that could restore independence to Italy’s media:


Here’s an urgent message from the Mozilla Foundation regarding micro-grants for work related to the ITU (deadline Wednesday night GMT) – read below, and send your application to (do not send your application to or to OSF).

Open Internet Microgrants to Support Civil Society Engagement with the ITU
On December 3rd, the world’s governments will begin a ten-day meeting in Dubai to update a key treaty of a UN agency called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Some proposed changes to that treaty could threaten Internet openness and innovation, increase access costs, and erode human rights online. We are urgently calling for projects that will help give civil society organizations that support an open Internet a stronger voice before and during that key meeting, the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT).


What We Want to Support

  • Efforts to influence your government’s position in the lead up to the WCIT meeting.
  • Costs for civil society representatives to participate at WCIT in Dubai, provided you are already a part of your country’s delegation or have otherwise demonstrated commitment and expertise in this area.
  • Provision of basic technical infrastructure and tools that let civil society representatives on the ground in Dubai coordinate and communicate with each other, their home organizations, and the media.


The Details

  • The call for proposal opens up on Nov. 12 and closes at 12 AM GMT Nov. 15 (i.e., midnight the night of the 14th).
  • This is a micro grant fund. There is a total of $10,000 available. Ideally, we will be supporting 8-10 projects from that amount. That means your grant will be approximately $1,000.
  • You need to be able to receive a wire transfer to a bank account. It can be your personal bank account. Individuals can apply.
  • We will contact you if we have any questions or to award you the grant. If you have not heard from us by November 16, we will have chosen not to provide support to your project.
  • Once a decision has been made, you will receive a letter from Mozilla summarizing the project you’ve proposed and agreeing to provide you the funds.
  • When the project is done, you will need to provide us a letter telling us what happened, how it went, and what you think you accomplished.


The Criteria
We will give preference to proposals that:

  • Ideally, show 1:1 matching support
  • Demonstrate your capacity to effect positive change
  • Facilitate regionally diverse participation in the WCIT
  • Can be implemented quickly


What We Need to Know
Send an e-mail to with the following information. If you are applying for travel support, be sure to tell us whether or not you are already included in your country’s delegation.

  • Name:
  • E-mail:
  • Organization (if applicable):
  • Country:
  • URL (if applicable):
  • Project Title:
  • What are you going to do?
  • Why are you the one to do it?
  • How will you spend the money?


In Zagreb, researchers, journalists and policy-makers from Croatia and beyond have been meeting on October 4th and 5th to discuss Digital Freedom of Expression, and the challenges faced by public media services and non-profit media. (Here’s the conference agenda in Word and as a PDF.) OSF’s own recent Mapping Digital Media report for Croatia covers many of these issues, and you can read it here.


Since she couldn’t be in Zagreb in person, Rebecca Mackinnon – co-founder of Global Voices Online, former CNN correspondent, scholar and author – recorded a video message to conference participants, but we think it deserves a wider airing. In it, she urges the news media and journalists to place internet freedom on a par with press freedom – without a free and open internet, she argues, press freedom will face ever more severe threats.