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<nettime> World Charter of Free Media
Geert Lovink on Sun, 19 Apr 2015 16:03:19 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> World Charter of Free Media

World Charter of Free Media 
Tunis, March 2015


We, communicators and activists committed to multiple emancipatory
communication practices across different regions of the world, freely
assembled in March 2015 in Tunis, on the occasion of the 4th World Forum
on Free Media, organized in the framework of the World Social Forum

Adopt this World Charter of Free Media, as the result of our collective
reflection initiated in 2013, and as an expression of our resistance,
and our commitment to just and emancipatory communication, and our
engagement with world developments and humanity.

We are communicators, activists, journalists, hackers, community media
associations and free media, social movements and popular organizations.

We are bloggers, audiovisual producers, free technology developers,
associations, networks, unions, journalism schools, research centers on
information and communication, and NGOs supporting access to information
and communication.

We are individuals and collectives, professionals, amateurs, and
enthusiasts participating in the democratization of communication from
the local to the global level, affirming that democratization and right
to communicate for all are essential to build a just and sustainable

Since the beginning of the anti-globalization movement, we have worked
hand in hand to create a space of expression for social movements. The
World Social Forum (WSF), which includes thematic and regional forums
around the world since 2001, works as a space of convergence and
cooperation echoed by free media. Our network of activists appeared in
this dynamic and has evolved into an organized movement for freedom of
expression and the fight for another form of communication. We will
continue to cooperate with other movements, making communication a
political issue for everyone, to transform the global communication

We practice new forms of human communication, intercultural, horizontal,
non-violent, open, decentralized, transparent, inclusive and shared,
through tools and forms of multiple expression (radio, television,
audiovisual media, Internet, etc. .), experimenting with new ways of
organizing and producing information. Our sources of funding, if they
exist, do not determine our ways of communication and our editorial

We are aware that the term "free media" refers to different
interpretations in our diverse linguistic and cultural realities. We
chose it primarily to gather around common practices based on autonomy
vis-a-vis commercial or state practices, the fight against all forms of
domination, and the will to guarantee spaces for open expression. We
wish to build economic models that are based on solidarity and

The dialogue between our diversities has taught us to better understand
our strengths, our contradictions, our common ethics, our sensitivities,
our practices and our willingness to fight and struggle for
independence. Meetings held since 2013 have allowed us to develop a
common plan of action and strategic goals.

This Charter marks the culmination of this process as a new starting
point to continue building an emancipatory movement among activists
concerned with information, communication and technologies.

We need more than ever a counter-hegemonic communication, that is
pluralistic and engaged

We find that knowledge production and dissemination of information by
the hegemonic media are subject to political and economic powers.
Commercial media reproduce a system of values and understanding of the
world, widening the gap between the actual needs of companies and
already excluded marginalized social groups. During the last twenty
years, with the (rapidly increasing) concentration of the media and the
development of transnational telecommunications networks in all regions
of the world, the power of traditional communication activists has
grown. The mainstream media continue to construct hegemonic meanings,
subjectivities, and public opinions. They cultivate a logic of cultural
and linguistic commodification and are destabilizing factors in
different regions of the world.

More profoundly, we see that the communication patterns of hegemonic
media exacerbate the problems that the world is going through culturally
and politically. They homogenize and monopolize where we should value
diversity, encourage participation, and promote collaboration for
co-construction of knowledge and mutual understanding of the world. They
are organized around events of special interest and commercial values,
where we should understand the social processes in their context, and
promote general interests and social values.

We are building an inclusive communication, pluralistic and

Facing this hegemonic system, communication activists and civil society
have historically relied and continue to rely on free media in their
struggle for real democracy and social justice. These media are talking
to other voices and oppose the hegemony of discourses using
non-commercial and non-governmental platforms (such as community radio
stations, independent TV channels, newspapers, blogs and social
networks, music, street art, etc.).

With the advance of new information technologies and communication,
especially the Internet, we have seen in recent years the emergence of
new opportunities for sharing and disseminating knowledge in virtually
every country in the world. More and more groups defending free media
and their increasing interconnection reinforce our desire and ability to
work together across borders and different forms of media expression.

We note that civil society appropriates these new technologies to create
independent radio and television on the Internet, blogs, social
networks, platforms sharing audio and video files, digital newspapers
and magazines. These techno-activists develop free software and web
interfaces, and offer real alternatives to commercial software and

We affirm common principles to guide our actions to promote free media
in our societies

Recognizing the international declarations, charters and reference texts
on communication, including Article 19 in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (1948) concerning the freedom of expression and the various
statements of social movements regarding the right to communication
adopted at the World Social Forums,

     1. We affirm that freedom of expression for everyone, the right to
     information and communication, and free access to knowledge are
     fundamental human rights. The right to communicate is the foundation of
     our humanity and our ability to create community. People have always
     looked for ways to communicate freely and independently, regardless of
     the historical oppression exercised by dominant groups through the media
     in our societies.

     2. We affirm that democratic information and communication is a
     fundamental condition for the exercising of democracy. Redistribution of
     speech, communication and action by free media should not be limited to
     technical or deterministic questions. Fundamental both for our movements
     and for the whole of society, free media are primarily a political

     3. We affirm that information and communication are essential tools in
     mobilizations and struggles seeking respect for human rights.

     4. We affirm that the information and communication platforms are common
     goods. Their use and management should address the concerns of general
     interest and pluralism, prioritizing popular participation. This
     implicates the elimination of the imposition of market ideologies and
     recognizes new areas of communication beyond the private and public

We fully embrace our role as free media claiming our features and our

The action of free media is based on the goal of independence vis-a-vis
the control exercised by the state and the economic, political,
ideological, and religious powers, and the conglomerate communication
groups. We stand against for-profit and market logics that characterizes
the hegemonic media.

We are in solidarity with social change, ecological and economic
justice, and democratic efforts in different parts of the world. Our
struggles are an essential part of the fight for human rights and the
struggle against colonialism, occupation, patriarchy, sexism, racism,
neoliberalism and all forms of oppression and fundamentalism. We are
mobilizing against violence on the Internet and in the media,
particularly against violence based on gender and vis-a-vis sexual

Our preferred means of communication values a diversity of expression
and world understandings, tolerances, and the equitable distribution of
speech and power. We promote social participation, cooperation, and the
sharing of information among different media and between information

We fight against all hate speech, intolerance, and violence.

We highlight other ways of living, other representations of the world
and We encourage new forms of participation and political engagement.
Free media are designed to train people to use a critical reading of the
media from a popular education perspective.

We assume the duty to rebalance the information flows between all
countries of the world, and within countries themselves, creating
democratic public spaces that embody an ethic of respect for information

We know how important it is to respect the cultures, memories, histories
and identities of peoples. Our work allows us to hear various interests
in society, the voices and actions of indigenous peoples, discriminated
minorities and social groups oppressed because of their religion,
identity, sexual orientation, class, abilities, ethnicity or language.

The content we promote values the diversity of imaginations, identities
and cultural expressions, as opposed to building aesthetic standards and
imposing gendered behavior on people. We will not give space to any form
of discrimination or gender oppression, or exclusion of any minority in
the world.

In a context of convergence, our free media work to achieve
technological sovereignty. They reject the commodification of digital
identities and promote the sharing of knowledge through the use of free
licenses and open software.

We demand the transformation of communication systems and are committed
the following strategic actions and priorities:

     1. We Affirm the right to communication as a fundamental right.  

     2. We Defend the Internet as a common good.  

     3. We promote democratic regulatory frameworks for the development of
     independent organizations and agencies, especially against hyper-media

     4. We Call for and encourage the development of community media,
     reserving and assigning frequencies dedicated to the social sector.  

     5. We Strengthen the independence of public service broadcasting (or
     public media) vis-a-vis government and market interests.  

     6. We Encourage the use of languages and dialects in the various
     areas of media expression, with particular attention to minority

     7. We Assert the implementation of public policies to strengthen free
     media, promote quality and sustainability.  

     8. We Reject the monopolization of Internet infrastructure, data
     grabbing by corporations, and the monitoring of cyberspace.  

     9. We Establish democratic Internet governance policies including
     guaranteeing network neutrality, the right to network privacy and
     freedom of expression.  

     10. We Facilitate access to free and open technologies.  

     11. We Encourage Universal access to communication and broadband

     12. We fight against the criminalization of activists and organizations
     who implement free media.  

     13. We Protect journalists and all communication activists subjected to
     violence, persecution or exploitation.  

     14. We Mobilize and create links between different media and social
     movements, particularly in the context of the World Social Forum

We call for the mobilization of actions related to the charter

     - Use this Charter to advocate for free media at the national, regional
       and international levels.

     - Implement the Charter as a teaching and learning tool, by organizing
       debates and discussion forums on free media and internet.

     - Build partnerships with other social sectors and international
       activists to promote and defend the principles set out above.

     - Map free media to facilitate various information sharing initiatives
       and experiences concerning the principles of free association and the
       respect for the right to anonymity.

     - Implement the Charter to generate instruments, tools or mechanisms
       concerning thematic or regional levels.

     - Promote the principles of the Charter among free media in every region
       of the world and on the occasion of various intergovernmental or
       international events among civil society.

We, free media, are aware of our strengths and the critical role we have
to contribute and pledge here and now, to fight for the principles and
commitments set out above, until they become reality.

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