The II World Forum of Free Media will be organized in panels, free debates, workshops and plenary sessions planned for Rio de Janeiro. The formats are open. Translated by Malgorzata Chojnowska and Fernanda Favaro
Hundreds of representatives of free media are getting ready to go to Rio de Janeiro, in June 2012, to help to prepare the Peoples’ Summit at Rio+20, a parallel event to the UN Conference on sustainable development. They will work to spread the voice of the people gathered at the Summit, who instead of talking about the management of the environment by economic power, will speak about the ways for the environmental and social justice. These media have their own agenda within the Summit, where they will meet to hold the II World Free Media Forum, besides covering the activities and the themes of Rio +20.
What are free media?
Committed to the fight for free knowledge and for alternatives to the models of communication monopolized or controlled by economic power, free media are those that serve communities, social struggles, culture and diversity. They use licenses that favor collective use and not corporate business. They share and defend the common good and freedom of expression for everyone and not only for companies that dominate the sector. They understand communication as a human right and therefore they want to change communication in the world.
Who are free media?
They are activist sites and popular publications, community radios and televisions, culture points (in Brazil) and many groups active in social networks. They are also non-profit agencies, magazines and alternative broadcasters, specialized or focused on working with the guidelines proposed by trade unions, social, academic or cultural movements. Inside or outside of those spaces, they are also free media as people – journalists, communicators, edu-communicators, bloggers, video-makers, office workers, developers of free technologies that today constitute a growing movement for the right to the communication.
The II World Forum of Free Media
After three forums in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro 2008, Vitória 2009 and Porto Alegre 2012), two preparatory meetings in North Africa (Marrakesh 2011 and Tunis 2012), a world edition (Belém 2009) and a Convergence Assembly at the World Social Forum (Dakar, 2011), the free media are slowly building their agendas, regional and global, which will make important progress in Rio de Janeiro, with the second world edition.
The II World Forum of Free Media will be organized in panels, free debates, workshops and plenary sessions planned for Rio de Janeiro. The formats are open. The activities will be registered and organized by the collectives and organizations interested in promoting them, within a collectively built program, and orientated by axes that point to the relationship between free media and the right to communication, public politicies, technological appropriation and social movements.
A global agenda is in construction.
The right to communication
The right to communication needs to be guaranteed and respected as a human right, but it is constantly threatened or even denied in many places in the world, with the use of extreme violence. One of the aspects of this right is freedom of expression, today assured only for the companies that control large chains of communication and entertainment, which do not want society to participate in the management of the system, and for the governments that still fear free communication as a threat to the security of the country or to the maintenance of power. The right to communication should be conquered in a full sense, beyond the access to information manipulated by the market or major powers, including global access and use of media, democratization of infrastructure and production of content, and expression of artistic and cultural diversity and full access to knowledge. The World Forum of Free Media will have agendas and debates about the right to the communication in different contexts such as about Africa and Mexico, for example, where violence against journalists and communicators has been a priority agenda for the communication movement.
The Law of Media in Argentina resonated strongly within the regional and preparatory processes of the WFMF, like in Porto Alegre and in Marrakesh, with the testimonies of communication activists and researchers of that country, and should again be one of the subjects of the II WFMF, because it offered a more democratic model of legislation that can inspire other countries, and for the strong opposition that it provoked among the big corporations of the communication sector. But this will not be the only case of regulation and public policies of interest to free media.
To be held in Brazil, the II WFML should give weight to the agendas of free media of communication in this country, which means that the government needs to forward the proposals of Brazilian civil society for a new regulatory framework for communications, democratizing the sector, that the community radio stations should have satisfied their list of demands, with the amnesty for arrested and convicted broadcasters, and that Congress must vote and approve the “Civil (Regulatory) Mark” of the Internet, which can be a model to ensure network neutrality. Free media should also encourage the resumption of cultural policies that had the culture points, free technologies and “commons” philosophies as their centerpiece, as today they are in clear regression.
Laws, regulations and the state’s role in promoting the right to communications are already part of discussions of free media in different countries and should drive the agenda of the II WFMF.
If in the past it was the alternative media that used to search for collaborative and shared forms to produce communications, today it is the big corporations that dominate the sector and attract millions of people to their social networks. However, the expansion cycle of these networks has also been a phase of collecting, storing and the transformation of personal data into subsidies to market and behavior strategies, besides the standardization of network´s usage in pre-ordained formats and the possibility of removing pages or tools according to corporate interests. Added to this control figures the copyright industry’s and telecommunications companies’ drive to approve laws that permits associating monitoring to arbitrary punishment of users on behalf of businesses based on exploitation and use of the network.
The freedoms and the diversity of the internet depends on freedom of access, the protection of personal data, the openness of codes, knowledge appropriation and construction of alternative connections, and also on self-managed networks. These will be the striking debates of the II WFMF that will mobilize free software activists and developers, supporters of net neutrality, educommunicators (people that use the communication as a powerful tool in education), workshop instructors and movements interested in democratizing the access to technology, universalizing broadband and assure the appropriation of communication resources, be it tools for video editing, network data transmission, or community broadcasting.
Developers, collectives and communities, adept to free and opened networks managed with no market interests, will meet each other within this axis to discuss a PROTOCOL for free networks, able to facilitate their interconnection without destroying their diversity.
The free media and the exercise of network communication have been crucial to facilitate the coordination and provide the appropriate visibility to the street mobilizations since the `Arab Spring`, facing governments in North Africa, the financial dictatorship in Europe and even the capitalist system in USA and the occupations that also take place in Brazil and Latin America.
Besides the so-called global activisms, the social movements have assumed that communication is strategic to reinforce their struggles, imposing a daily critique of the mainstream media and the use of alternative media as a way to talk to society and defend themselves against criminalization. It is increasingly clear that the right to express these confrontational voices requires the engagement of social movements in the movement for another communication.
This debate, in the II WFMF, highlights the fact that free media are, on the one hand, the communication that deals with social struggles, but they are also the social movements that fight for communication.
The II WFMF, the WSF and the Peoples’ Summit
The Free Media Forum, with its regional and international processes, participates in the World Social Forum process, adopting its Charter of Principles and contributing with subsidies and practices to build its communication policies.
In the Peoples’ Summit, the free media will use the concept of Shared Communication, built within the historical course of the World Social Forum and grounded in the idea that resources, spaces and activities can be shared for common media actions in the interest of social struggles.
In the Peoples’ Summit, the free media will contribute with proposals and discussions to reinforce the Common Goods agenda – in which Communication and Culture are considered great goods of the humanity, inseparable from Environmental and Social Justice -, and to make the right and defense of communication part of the documents, agendas and proposals of the peoples represented by their social movements in Rio de Janeiro.
- II World Free Media Forum
- When – 16th and 17th of June 2012
- Where: Rio de Janeiro, RJ – Brazil, in the context of the People’s Summit for Rio + 20
- Place of the activities:
- 16th to 17th of June Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Central Agenda with discussions, workshops and plenary)
- People’s Summit Period: (15th to 23th of June)
- Aterro do Flamengo – (Shared Coverage, Radio and TV Forums, workshops)
- Aterro do Flamengo – (Convergence on Life Commodification and Common Property Assembly)