Saarc plan for free flow of information adopted -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Saarc plan for free flow of information adopted

ISLAMABAD – The fourth Saarc information ministers’ conference adopted an 11-point plan of action on December 15, to enhance multilateral media cooperation and ensure free flow of information among the member nations.

The conference stressed the need for implementing the recommendations made by the previous information ministers’ conference about easing visa restrictions for the movement of media personnel.

Speaking at a news conference, the Minister for Information and newly-elected Chairman of the Saarc information ministers’ conference, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said a host of other issues were discussed in the meeting which would appear in a report.

Accompanied by the five Saarc countries’ information ministers and secretary information from India, the minister said things had changed a lot between India and Pakistan and there was no use asking questions about India’s aggressive propaganda against Pakistan.

The Indian delegate was asked by a questioner why India was unleashing a spat of negative propaganda against Pakistan if the intention was to normalize mutual relations, particularly in the field of information.

The 11-points plan of action includes: To ensure free flow of information, newspapers, periodicals, books and other publications between the member countries. To reduce postal and telecommunication rates for media transmission and information materials.

To hold annual meetings of heads of national radio, TV and news agencies of Saarc member countries. A model of guidelines on transnational satellite broadcasting in the region may be evolved. Cooperation may be extended and encouraged in exchange of information between national news agencies of member countries.

The recommendations of the third meeting of Saarc information ministers with regard to the easing of visa regime for accredited journalists be implemented expeditiously on the basis of reciprocity.

Teleconferencing for SAVE and other Saarc activities and publicity will be reorganized. Special programme for forthcoming Saarc designated years will be developed by TV and radio organizations as well as by print media.

A digital technology forum will be established. Video documentaries on Saarc in the new millennium with translation into national languages of member countries would be produced and viewed in member countries.

It decided to observe the year 2007 as the Saarc media year. The information ministers of Saarc supported the idea of having some common parameters to balance functioning between the private and public service broadcasters in the region.

The minister said the member countries might also consider taking policy decision at the national level in their respective countries and formulate legislation. The meeting also adopted a document on Saarc common position for its presentation at the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) being held in Tunis in November 2005.

The meeting also agreed that Saarc information centre may be established. A data-base for the Saarc region covering economic, social and media fields be maintained, including the establishment of a library of various programmes on core areas of cooperation.

The leader of Pakistan delegation at the conference offered to the member countries training facilities at its academies of the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and Pakistan Television. Nepalese minister for information briefed the meeting that his country had undertaken the infrastructural activities to establish the information centre.
Source: Dawn