Geert Lovink on Wed, 7 May 1997 20:00:57 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> The People's Communication Charter

From: (Roos van Duuren)

About the People's Communication Chart

Across the world people face pervasive forms of censorship, distorted and
misleading information, stereotyped images of gender and race, restricted
access to knowledge, and insufficient channels to communicate their ideas
and opinions. The People's Communication Charter is a first step in the
development of a permanent movement concerned with the quality of our
communication environment. The initiators of the PCC think it is time for
individual citizens and their organisations to take an active role in the
shaping of the cultural environment and to focus on the production and
distribution of information and culture. 

The People's Communication Charter provides the common framework for all
those who share the belief that people should be active and critical
participants in their social reality and should be able to communicate
their ideas and opinions. The Charter is not an end in itself. It provides
the basis for a permanent critical reflection on those world-wide trends
that determine the quality of our lives in the third millennium. The PCC
movement mobilizes support for the Charter by initiating a process of
ratification by individuals and social movements. Moreover an intensive
exchange of opinions on the concrete PCC text and implementation of the
Charter's provisions is needed which is possible via the PCC site.

PCC, p/a Society for Old and New Media, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam,
phone: +31 20 5579898, fax: +31 20 5579880,


We, the Signatories of this Charter, recognize that:

Communication is basic to the life of all individuals and their 
communities. All people are entitled to participate in communication, and
in making decisions about communication within and between societies. The
majority of the world's peoples lack minimal technological resources for
survival and communication. Over half of them have not yet made a single
telephone call. Commercialization of media and concentration of media 
ownership erode the public sphere and fail to provide for cultural and 
information needs, including the plurality of opinions and the diversity
of cultural expressions and languages necessary for democracy. Massive and
pervasive media violence polarizes societies, exacerbates conflict, and
cultivates fear and mistrust, making people vulnerable and dependent.
Stereotypical portrayals misrepresent all of us and stigmatize those who
are the most vulnerable. Therefore, we ratify this Charter defining
communication rights and responsibilities to be observed in democratic
countries and in international law.

Article 1. Respect.

All people are entitled to be treated with respect, according to the basic
human rights standards of dignity, integrity, identity, and non-discrimination.

Article 2. Freedom.

All people have the right of access to communication channels independent
of governmental or commercial control.

Article 3. Access.

In order to exercise their rights, people should have fair and equitable
access to local and global resources and facilities for conventional and
advanced channels of communication; to receive opinions, information and
ideas in a language they normally use and understand; to receive a range
of cultural products designed for a wide variety of tastes and interests;
and to have easy access to facts about ownership of media and sources of
information. Restrictions on access to information should be permissible
only for good and compelling reason, as when prescribed by international
human rights standards or necessary for the protection of a democratic
society or the basic rights of others.

Article 4. Independence.

The realization of people's right to participate in, contribute to and 
benefit from the development of self-reliant communication structures
requires international assistance to the development of independent media;
training programmes for professional mediaworkers; the establishment of
independent, representative associations, syndicates or trade unions of
journalists and associations of editors and publishers; and the adoption
of international standards.

Article 5. Literacy.

All people have the right to acquire information and skills necessary to
participate fully in public deliberation and communication. This requires
facility in reading, writing, and storytelling; critical media awareness;
computer literacy; and education about the role of communication in

Article 6. Protection of journalists.

Journalists must be accorded full protection of the law, including 
international humanitarian law , especially in areas of armed conflict. 
They must have safe, unrestricted access to sources of information, and 
must be able to seek remedy, when required, through an international body.

Article 7. Right of reply and redress.

All people have the right of reply and to demand penalties for damage from
media misinformation. Individuals concerned should have an opportunity to
correct, without undue delay, statements relating to them which they have
a justified interest in having corrected. Such corrections should be given
the same prominence as the original expression. States should impose
penalties for proven damage, or require corrections, where a court of law
has determined that an information provider has wilfully disseminated
inaccurate or misleading and damaging information, or has facilitated the
dissemination of such information.

Article 8. Cultural identity.

All people have the right to protect their cultural identity. This 
includes the respect for people's pursuit of their cultural development
and the right to free expression in languages they understand. People' s
right to the protection of their cultural space and heritage should not
violate other human rights or provisions of this Charter.

Article 9. Diversity of Languages.

All people have the right to a diversity of languages. This includes the
right to express themselves and have access to information in their own 
language, the right to use their own languages in educational institutions
funded by the state, and the right to have adequate provisions created for
the use of minority languages where needed.

Article 10. Participation in policy making.

All people have the right to participate in public decision-making about 
the provision of information; the development and utilization of 
knowledge; the preservation, protection and development of culture; the 
choice and application of communication technologies; and the structure
and policies of media industries.

Article 11. Children's Rights.

Children have the right to mass media products that are designed to meet
their needs and interests and foster their healthy physical, mental and 
emotional development.. They should be protected from harmful media 
products and from commercial and other exploitation at home, in school and
at places of play, work, or business. Nations should take steps to produce
and distribute widely high quality cultural and entertainment materials
created for children in their own languages.

Article 12. Cyberspace.

All people have a right to universal access to and equitable use of
cyberspace. Their rights to free and open communities in cyberspace, their
freedom of electronic expression, and their freedom from electronic
surveiilance and intrusion, should be protected.

Article 13. Privacy.

All people have the right to be protected from the publication of 
allegations irrelevant to the public interest, or of private photographs 
or other private communication without authorization, or of personal
information given or received in confidence. Databases derived from
personal or workplace communications or transactions should not be used
for unauthorized commercial or general surveillance purposes.
However, nations should take care that the protection of privacy does not
unduly interfere with the freedom of expression or the administration of

Article 14. Harm.

People have the right to demand that media actively counter incitement to
hate, prejudice, violence, and war. Violence should not be presented as 
normal, "manly", or entertaining, and true consequences of and 
alternatives to violence should be shown. Other violations of human
dignity and integrity to be avoided include stereotypic images that
distort the realities and complexities of people's lives. Media should not 
ridicule, stigmatize, or demonize people on the basis of gender, race,
class, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, and physical or mental 

Article 15. Justice.

People have the right to demand that media respect standards of due 
process in the coverage of trials. This implies that the media should not
presume guilt before a verdict of guilt, invade the privacy of defendants,
and should not televise criminal trials in real time, while the trial is
in progress.

Article 16. Consumption.

People have the right to useful and factual consumer information and to be
protected against misleading and distorted information. Media should avoid
and, if necessary, expose promotion disguised as news and entertainment
(infomercials, product placement, children's programmes that use
franchised characters and toys, etc), and the creation of wasteful,
unnecessary, harmful or ecologically damaging needs, wants, products and
activities. Advertising directed at children should receive special

Article 17. Accountability.

People have the right to hold media accountable to the general public and
their adherence to the standards established in this Charter. For that 
purpose, media should establish mechanisms, including self- regulatory
bodies, that monitor and account for measures taken to achieve compliance.

Article 18. Implementation.

In consultation with the Signatories, national and international
mechanisms will be organized to publicize this Charter; to implement it in
as many countries as possible and in international law; monitor and assess
the performance of countries and media in light of these Standards;
receive complaints about violations; advise on adequate remedial measures;
and to establish procedures for periodic review, development and
modification of this Charter.

Roos van Duuren
Maatschappij voor Oude en Nieuwe Media, De Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR
tel: 020-5579806, fax: 020-5579880, URL:,

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