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The primary political issue is between North and South. In international communications, facilities and programming, as in other economic areas, the industrialized countries of the North are dominant. Developing countries lack planning, finances, technical, and administrative expertise, as well as trained journalists and editors to rapidly change this situation. They resent the perceived communications imbalance.
Third World attempts to reduce this imbalance and resistance to the principle of Article 19, affect primarily three international communications issues:
-Developing countries seek within UNESCO financial and pro
motional measures designed to improve their communications
abilities. - In the U.N. debate on direct broadcast satellites, Third World countries argue for a “prior consent” rule to enable them to prohibit transmissions to their home TV screens from foreign sources, and particularly from the relatively few developed countries that produce TV programs—even though technically such a "direct" transmission without communicating through centralized receiving facilities (under government regulation) is not practical -In preparation for the 1979 WARC, developing countries have indicated that they will seek a larger share of the world's radio frequencies and satellite parking spaces--the latter being an
inappropriate topic for WARC. Drawing on their experience in other international economic negotiations, these countries have become increasingly political and organized in pressing their positions,
UNESCO, the ITU, and the U.N. Outer Space Committee have also become forums for the ideological and political struggle between East and West. The Soviets initiated the effort to obtain a prior consent rule for DBS and the initial draft mass media declaration for restricting the media. Because developing countries share to varying degrees Soviet desires for restrictions on the free flow of information, their interests on information are often aligned, although clearly in the last U.N. Outer Space Committee debate over DBS, there were totally divided views and no emerging majority view.
Although we differ with some of our allies on the DBS issue, these differences are not essentially ideological. As reflected in disputes about international facilities planning and transborder data flows, differences with European countries involve primarily economic issues, approaches to planning, and perceptions of national goals.
The United States has national security, political, ideological, economic, and technological stakes in international communications.
Our national security is dependent on advanced telecommunications systems. Politically, we are committed to a broad exchange of in formation both domestically and internationally.
Our economic interest is obvious: our industrial base relies on adequate communications; large corporations have become increasingly
dependent on world-wide computer circuits. Moreover, the United States is the world's largest producer and consumer of telecommunication equipment and services. (Exports of communications/computers and auxiliary hardware exceed $5 billion per year.)
Technologically, the United States holds a lead in most areas of satellite communications, in fiber optic communications (along with Japan) and in very large electronic switching systems. In other areas of basic communications technology, such as microwave transmission systems or satellite earth stations, the United States, Japan and Western Europe are roughly equivalent technologically. In computer and data communications and in their applications the United States is commercially dominant.
COORDINATION Given the current dimensions of communications issues, the importance of these issues to the United States, and the increasing effectiveness of Third World countries in pressing their positions in international forums, the United States is paying more attention to this area than it has in the past. More Executive Branch resources are being allocated to communications issues; and policy is being coordinated at higher levels of government and approved at the highest level.
During 1977 and 1978, several steps were taken to provide an improved framework for coordinated policymaking in international communications:
- The National Telecommunications and Information Adminis
tration was established within the Department of Commerce; - The International Communication Agency was established; -- Responsibility for the implementation of international communications policy was assigned by the Secretary to the Deputy Secretary of State, who is working closely with other interested agencies; the Deputy Secretary has established an intradepartmental group at the Deputy Assistant Secretary level to ensure
systematic coordination of international communications issues; --A Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the 1979 World Admin
istrative Radio Conference was named, and an initial delega
tion group formed; -A public advisory committee was established to provide for
comprehensive non-governmental, participation in preparations
for the 1979 WARC; ---An overall policy review of international communications issues
undertaken by the Administration and awaits final approval; --An NSC Working Group on International Communications
Policy was formed to ensure the proper coordination among Executive Branch agencies on day-to-day international communications policy issues and activities, including U.S. partici
pation in international communication conferences. Many executive branch agencies have specific interests in international telecommunications. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Department of State and the International Communication Agency (ICA) have primary policy responsibility.
WARC, UNESCO, direct broadcast satellites, and transborder data flow are related, even though they are dealt with in separate forums and, to some extent, raise different issues. The U.S. approach to these negotiations is coordinated at the highest levels of the agencies described above. In addition, individual offices at State, Commerce, the FCC and elsewhere, working on different communications issues are in frequent contact—both formally through task forces and working groups, and informally.
This integrated structure for policymaking has already proved itself in action at the November 1978 UNESCO General Conference. General guidelines for the U.S. position were, after consultation with Congress, the public, and media leaders, laid down last summer by an interdepartmental group reporting to the Deputy Secretary of State. Detailed implementation was coordinated by an NSC working group. The Chairman of the U.S. Delegation in Paris was the Director of the International Communication Agency, reflecting his own Presidential mandate to help develop comprehensive international communication policies serving the interests of both the United States and other nations. Throughout the Conference Chairman Reinhardt worked in close partnership with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs and his backup team in Washington, who reviewed and obtained interagency clearance for negotiation positions being developed in Paris. As discussed in Part II of this report, the result both conformed to political realities and achieved key U.S. objectives.
II. UNESCO ISSUES
The North/South imbalance in communications affects three negotiations, but the political rhetoric has been most openly and sharply expressed within UNESCO. Third World leaders are concerned about an “imbalance in information flows" and about their lack of adequate communications and information facilities and skills. They note that the flow of information between North and South is one-sided ; that the major news agencies (AP, UPI, Reuters, Agence-France Presse, and TASS) distribute far more news on developed countries than about the developing world; and that they are overwhelmingly passive recipients of news, entertainment and information, rather than producers.
They express frustration over their extremely limited access to the transmitting end of the global communications apparatus, which they see as controlled and exploited by the developed countries in their own interest.
Third World leaders believe that the Western news agencies emphasize the violent and sensational in covering events in developing countries, and they regard Western domination of the media as a threat to their ability to preserve traditional values and to develop national pride. Some even claim that allowing foreign journalists free rein will destabilize their government.
Some of these concerns are rhetorical, and some reflect different values and attitudes. In part, Third World concerns are real: We may disagree strongly with rhetorical claims of "cultural imperialism,
but we can understand their cultural concerns, and we cannot fault the dereloping countries for their concerns on the need to develop indigenous communications and information capabilities.
THE MASS MEDIA DECLARATION
The issue of state authority over the media arises not only in a context of political oppression, but also in those countries that would “use" the media as a policy tool, i.e., to promote national economic, social and political objectives. The Soviet Union and many developing countries support restrictions on the media. For us that is unacceptable: state control of the media, no matter how subtle, violates basic human freedoms.
An early version of a Mass Media Declaration grew out of a Soviet initiative. Although non-binding it would have enunciated the principle that states are directly responsible for the behavior of media operating within their borders; prescribed "obligations” of the media with respect to racism, peace, economic development, etc.; and limited the rights of journalists to acting in accordance with the declaration.
The draft declaration had substantial support at the 19th General Conference at Nairobi in 1976. But, recognizing that UNESCO could be seriously weakened if a divisive declaration were approved, a niimber of Third World nations joined the United States, Canada and Western European countries in deferring the question to 1978.
The resolution which deferred consideration of the draft declaration invited the UNESCO Director General to hold "further broad consultations with experts" with a view to drafting a new text “which could meet with the largest possible measure of agreement" for submission to member states. He circulated widely a trial balloon text in 1977. Based on responses to it, last August 21 he submitted another draft text to member states.
The State Department in consultation with other agencies concluded that the August text was unacceptable because it retained language mandating responsibilities for the mass media, implying restrictions on some of their operations and endorsing state control. A letter to Director General M'Bow enumerated specific and severe U.S.
The Department also instructed our diplomatic posts in 57 key countries to convey to host governments our concern with this draft and the threat it posed to global free flow of information. Department officers and members of the U.S. Permanent Delegation to UNESCO met with Western counterparts in Paris early in October to lay out common strategies for achieving another deferral of the draft declaration.
Soon after the General Conference convened on October 24, two things became apparent to our delegation: -There was a strong and widespread preference of developing
countries for adoption of some kind of media declaration, but not necessarily the one which had been submitted to Member States. - The Director General and the UNESCO Secretariat were disposed to work for a consensus agreement through low-visibility negotiations, rather than endanger Western support for UNESCO by adopting a declaration over their objections.
Confronted with the assessment of our delegation that there was virtually no chance of further postponement of the item, we decided to negotiate for an acceptable text, always retaining the option of opposing one which did not meet our minimum requirements. The Department consulted extensively with media leaders who agreed that working to produce the best possible text was preferable to continued opposition to any text, a course that seemed likely to result in adoption by a large majority of an unacceptable declaration endorsing state control of the media.
The result of intensive negotiations was a text [Annex] not only stripped of all language implying state authority over the mass media, but which also included positive language on freedom of information. Instead of imposing duties and responsibilities upon journalists, as had previous drafts, it proclaimed the “necessity for them to enjoy the best conditions for the exercise of their profession.” It recognized that the exercise of freedom of opinion, expression and information is an integral part of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and it asserted the public's right of access to information through a diversity of sources. It charged states with the responsibility of providing favorable conditions for the operation of the mass media. It affirmed the necessity to help the developing countries overcome their handicaps in communication development as a cooperative measure.
The developing countries overwhelmingly supported the new draft and successfully resisted communist bloc demands for extensive counter-amendments. The concerned U.S. media leaders, both within and outside the Delegation, declared the draft acceptable and it was adopted by consensus on the final day of the General Conference. Cooperation and assistance programs
In his statement to the General Conference, the chairman of the U.S. delegation, Ambassador John E. Reinhardt, offered concrete proposals of cooperation and assistance to respond to developing countries' needs in communication development:
Cooperation, through educational exchange programs, to improve the regional training institutions for mass communication
and journalism in the developing world.
entities, provision of management, training and funding for
requests. The United States sponsored a resolution, adopted by consensus, inviting the Director General to call this planning conference (now scheduled for Washington later in 1979). Another U.S.-sponsored consensus resolution urged the identification by the International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems of concrete and