[Documents menu] Documents menu
Message-ID: <013101be960e$d0ca9b00$525295c1@vaio-note>
Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 10:16:37 +0100
Sender: "African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List"
From: Mark Lynas <mark@ONEWORLD.ORG>
Subject: MEDIA: Third World Favours Radio Over Internet

Third World Favours Radio Over Internet

By Thalif Deen, IPS
4 May 1999

UNITED NATIONS, May 4 (IPS) - A coalition of 133 developing countries wants the United Nations to keep radio, and other traditional media outlets, as a means of disseminating information rather than relying only on the internet. The switch to the global information super highway would give an unfair advantage to rich nations over the poor, say the developing nations..

Ambassador Samuel Insanally of Guyana, chairman of the Group of 77, says that the introduction of modern information technology increasingly has favoured rich nations and is detrimental to the peoples of the developing world "who are clearly disadvantaged by their lack of access to such advanced technologies."

"The gap in information technology is likely to affect inter State cooperation in a number of areas, including commercial and economic relations," Insanally told the UN Committee on Information Monday.

"The United Nations must ensure that developing nations are more equitably served," he added.

Insanally said that Secretary-General Kofi Annan has admitted that about 90 percent of all access to the UN web site (www.un.org) comes from industrial countries.

As a result, Annan assured the Group of 77 that the UN's Department of Public Information will continue to maintain and expand the use of traditional means of information - including radio and printed material - because of the constraints faced by developing countries in an age of computers and the global information superhighway.

Insanally says that despite these assurances, there seems to be little or no progress in a proposed pilot project for the establishment of a UN broadcasting facility.

"The radio remains for most of our countries, the major medium for the dissemination of information," he says.

"Our Group would therefore expect that, as attempts are made to introduce costly, high-tech changes within the United Nations, such as digital television technology, similar diligent efforts will be made to strengthen the UN Radio..."

Insanally says there is a need to proceed with the proposed broadcasting facility in order to reach a world wide audience and thus redress, to some degree, the imbalances and inequalities between developed and developing countries in the field of information and communication.

Kensaku Hogen, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, told the Committee that the United Nations has tested the viability of an international radio broadcasting facility. But the development of the long-term project depends on the availability of substantial extra-budgetary resources.

So far, he says, there have been no concrete financial offers either from member states or private Organisations which will lead to the establishment of the pilot project.

"In the circumstances, we have no choice but to await such offers, before commencing with concrete measures on any aspects of the proposal," he adds.

Hogen says the UN web site has attracted strong interest by UN member states. Accesses to the web site have grown exponentially over the past year.

As of last week, the UN recorded some 45.8 million "hits" for this year compared with 25 million during the corresponding period last year. "Even more encouraging is the fact that the UN web site is becoming known around the world," Hogen says.

This year, some 150 countries have gained access to the web site. "While the bulk is still from the industrialised countries, current growth indicators suggest a very rapid and encouraging expansion of accesses from the developing countries," Hogen says.

He also points out that the capacity of the Internet to carry messages instantaneously around the world has enabled the Department of Public Information to place a great variety of information materials on it.

Such material included statements by the Secretary-General, reports of major inter-governmental bodies, daily news highlights, promotional materials on major UN themes and priorities, and information about major world conferences and special sessions of the General Assembly.

Hogen says his Department also plans to introduce digital technology which is expected to replace analog technology in the near future. "New technology is indeed a key factor in expanding outreach and in getting messages to target audiences on time."

With assistance from UN Information Centres worldwide, the Department's News Service will transmit breaking news via electronic mail and facsimile directly to news desks of key media and other opinion-influencing audiences.

The Department also will continue to place planned and coordinated op-ed articles by senior UN officals in newspapers and other journals around the world.

"The central focus of the new service will be to ensure that media everywhere will be able to receive the latest news material from the United Nations in a redily useable format almost immediately as it is issued at Headquarters," Hogen says. (END/IPS/td/mk/99)

[World History Archives]     [Gateway to World History]     [Images from World History]     [Hartford Web Publishing]