Vol. 4, no 24, Monday, July 12, 2004
La diversité culturelle, une richesse pour le monde
Throughout the summer, the Government of Québec will be taking advantage of various cultural events of note in Québec to project a short video on cultural diversity. The 45 second spot will be running on giant screens at open-air stages at Festival international de jazz de Montréal, the Québec City Summer Festival, Francofolies de Montréal, and Mondial des cultures de Drummondville. Produced under the theme Cultural Diversity, a Treasure for the World by Québec’s Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, the videoinforms Quebecers about the importance of protecting cultural diversity.
To view the video in high or low resolution, visit
IN THIS ISSUE :
Le Monde, édition du 7 juin 2004 - 2004/06/07
In this edition of Le Monde, European artists and cultural representatives issued a declaration calling on the heads of state and government and European institutions to make the European Union “a cultural power that speaks with a common voice and is listened to as a moral authority.” They remarked that Europe does not play the role it should, but rather “maintains the illusion that the Union is first and foremost an economic and monetary project. It seems cut off from its past and swayed by blind forces, while it should manifest itself as a project solidly rooted in its heritage.” They believe that “if the Europe of production and consumption were to dominate Europe as a civilization, if Europe as a common market were to replace Europe as a political and cultural project, the present global crisis could cumulate in a crash between the forces of fundamentalism and those of materialism. This clash would be as traumatic and devastating as the worst scourges that have hit humanity during the last century.”
That is why they call on “the heads of state and governments of the 25 member states to adopt a European Constitution that is a genuine civilization project, founded on our cultural heritage and our shared values of democracy, freedom, and respect for human rights and dignity. As such, economic objectives must be considered more a means than an end.” The group notably asks governments and European institutions to “give proof of their genuine common political will to launch an ambitious European project capable of cementing a European cultural identity that reflects both unity and diversity. The whole of Europe should become a living space, vibrant with creation and exchange, fueling the circulation of ideas and works of their creative artists.” They also urge “those countries most committed to the process of unification to foster new, daring, and federalizing initiatives that will help develop and enhance the European common cause, especially its cultural dimension,” and call upon “the artists and cultural leaders to play an active and prominent role in supporting a Europe of culture.” (Available in French)
Union européenne de radio-télévision, 13 mai 2004 – 2004/05/13
The European Broadcasting Union issued a statement announcing that Radio-Canada, Première Chaîne, will feature twelve additional hours of cultural programming. “With the musical landscape of French-language radio in Canada becoming more and more homogenous, the challenge is ours now more than ever,” declared the corporation’s vice president Sylvain Lafrance. “Supporting cultural diversity and promoting our musical heritage are major challenges and national public service priorities.”
The cultural station is also gearing up for a makeover, with a new focus on musical diversity and Canadian talent, giving its latenights entirely over to the 16 to 34 age group. “This reform will strengthen Radio-Canada’s public service mandate by offering Canadian listeners even more choice and diversity in radio content—a choice offered by a network dedicated to providing information and cultural content on one hand, and musical diversity from home and abroad on the other.” (Available in French, and English)
Le Monde diplomatique, avril 2004, p. 19 - 2004/04
“Do some media agencies pose a threat to world peace?” Eric Klinenberg, professor at New York University and author of Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, (University of Chicago Press, 2002) discussed the issue. “The campaign between Mr. George W. Bush and Mr. John Kerry is sure to raise the issue of manipulation of information, as well as capitalist concentration in the media.” He noted that the media came under increasing fire in 2003. John Nichols, leader of the fast-growing movement for media reform Free Press, is challenging the way the U.S. media works. Bernie Sanders, who represents Vermont in the House of Representatives, explained that “for the first time in U.S. history, corporate control over the media is a political issue.” Another member of Congress, Maurice Hinchey added that media reform “is the most critical issue currently facing the American people. It’s about controlling the debate, and the foundations of democracy are at stake.” But the author asks, “What could motivate real media reform in a nation where 10 enormous corporations dominate the news business? What might a movement accomplish?”
Klinenberg pointed to two seminal events that raised awareness among Americans and spurred them to action: the uncritical news coverage of the war in Iraq and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to further deregulate the media. On June 2, 2003, the industry regulatory authority “made a decision to allow large media conglomerates to further expand their share of the market” by permitting newspapers and television stations in the same city to have the same owners and allowing broadcasters to pick up more local and national networks. Two million Americans wrote to the Commission to oppose the planned deregulation. For Charles Lewis, head of the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), it was clear that “the FCC was in the grips of the private sector.” According to Mr. Adelstein, one of five FCC commissioners, it was “the most sweeping and destructive rollback of consumer protection rules in the history of American broadcasting.” Representative Tami Baldwin complained, “As a member of the U.S. Congress, I often have to turn to the foreign press to get deep and reliable information.”
To illustrate his point, the author noted that the Telecommunications Act signed into law by President Clinton in 1996 deregulated the radio market to such an extent that the number of station owners dropped by 34% in seven years. Today, Clear Channel alone operates over 1,200 stations, including the six in Minot. In some cities, a single company operates all local stations, and residents have a hard time finding anything of interest to listen to. Television is similarly endangered. Adelstein says, “today 14% of programming on local television stations is paid infomercials,” or advertisements disguised as news. However, Senator Lott noted that Americans are interested in TV, radio, and print, and they are worried about the lack of quality and diversity. Bernie Sanders observed, for example, that political meetings about the media attract more members of the public than any other subject. As the author stressed, current campaigns to transform the media are focused on Iraq and the FCC, but their objective is not just to repeal the laws passed in 2003: “Rolling back what the FCC did is not enough,” asserts John Nichols. “We would still be faced with an illegal war and a partisan media.” Free Press director and academic Robert McChesney insisted on the urgency of challenging media monopolies and reorganizing the sector to transform the field into a more democratic public sphere. The next step will be to win more generous government funding for public broadcasting and community media.
To conclude, Klinenberg maintains that “the amount of protest against the FCC last year is encouraging. The Free Press, national organizations like FAIR, Media Access, and Media Channel, and the hundreds of local activist groups now forming recognize that many obstacles lay before them. But their leaders have been galvanized by the events of the past year, and they are ready for a long battle.” (Available in French)
In its July 6, 2004, issue, the Spanish daily El País announced the creation of the Spanish Coalition for Cultural Diversity further to a proposal in Madrid in this regard on July 6, 2004, by the Actors Union Federation (FAEE), the General Society of Authors and Editors (SGAE), and the Federation of Spanish Audiovisual Producers’ Associations (FAPAE). The organizations also released a Manifesto calling on all sectors of the arts to support UNESCO’s International Convention on Cultural Diversity, “an international movement fighting to prevent cultural goods from being treated as mere commercial commodities,” and expressing the hope that the new Coalition, through SGAE, would be open to suggestions of all kinds from all organizations. Moreover, Fernando Gómez Risque, assistant director of international cooperation with the Spanish Ministry of Culture, announced that Spain would play an active role in all forums on cultural diversity. Also taking part in the ceremony were FAEE secretary general Jorge Bosso, FAPAE director general Fabia Buenaventura, SGAE secretary general Francisco Galindo, and Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity representative Robert Pilon.
Le Groupe Jeune Afrique, le 27 mai 2004 –2004/05/25
The 38th Conference of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture was hosted on May 25 and 26, 2004, in Tunis by Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The general theme of the meetings was “Arab Economic Development and Integration and Arab-Europe Relations.” Attendees at this 38th Conference also discussed globalization, Arab-Europe cooperation in technology transfer, investment issues, and modern systems and means for marketing Arab exports in Europe. Upon its conclusion, the Conference called for freer trade among Arab states and the creation of a broad Arab free trade area in 2005. In addition, the final communiqué stressed the “need to hasten the adoption of common Arab standards” to facilitate introduction of this free trade area. (Available in French)
Under the acronym MONDIALOGO, UNESCO and DaimlerChrysler have launched an initiative to promote the importance of cultural diversity and generate enthusiasm, particularly among young people, for cultural exchanges as a source of enrichment in their lives: “Cultural diversity on our planet is one of the most important aspects of human existence. It is our common heritage. And it is therefore something we have to protect and nurture, for our own sake and that of future generations. In its own way, each individual culture has influenced the history, the human achievements, and the route to our present-day society. Everything we do and everything we are has been influenced and shaped by the interplay of cultures. Intercultural dialog and dialog among civilizations is of vital importance as a source of exchange, inspiration renewal, and creativity. This constructive dialog and engagement with other cultures leads to common understanding, respect, and tolerance—and hence provides an important basis for the peaceful coexistence of people. To foster such intercultural dialog amongst youth, we have joined hands to launch a new worldwide initiative, Mondialogo, which is to stand for dialog on a worldwide scale as a new public/private partnership.”