[FoME] Just Published WAN-IFRA report: Soft Censorship, Hard Impact

Sofie Jannusch Sofie.Jannusch at CAMECO.ORG
Fr Jun 13 10:01:14 CEST 2014

Just Published: Soft Censorship, Hard Impact
A new global report on “soft censorship” warns of increasing threats to
independent media posed by official use of financial leverage and
regulatory powers to influence reporting and the very viability of media
outlets. “Soft Censorship, Hard Impact”, produced by the World
Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the Center
for International Media Assistance (CIMA), details the advance of soft
censorship, and urgently calls on governments to fully respect
principles of transparent and non-discriminatory state advertising, aid
and funding for all media outlets.
The report was written by Thomas R. Lansner, and produced with support
from Open Society Foundations and Open Society Justice Initiative. The
full report can be downloaded without charge from the WAN-IFRA website
at http://www.wan-ifra.org/node/104057 (bottom of the page).
WAN-IFRA and CIMA are today calling for rapid action to address the
growing danger that “soft censorship” poses to press freedom and media
independence in scores of countries around the world.

“Soft censorship is less noticed than direct attacks on press freedom
like assaults on journalists, but is even more widespread,” said Larry
Kilman, Secretary General of WAN-IFRA. “Soft censorship is pervasive,
but not yet recognised for its grave and growing threat to media
independence and press freedom.”

Soft censorship is a widely practiced but indirect form of censorship
in which governments use biased media subsidies and advertising
placements to exert pressure to influence media content and media
outlets’ viability.

WAN-IFRA, CIMA and like-minded groups are committed to raising
awareness of the mechanisms of soft censorship, and to advocating
measures that can reduce it. 

“Soft censorship can all-too-quietly strangle free media,” warned Mark
Nelson, Senior Director of CIMA. “A public that is denied accurate and
impartial information is unlikely to be aware of its existence and its
pernicious impact on the democratic process.”

This report’s recommendations suggest a path forward that proponents of
free and independent media can embrace, beginning with greater
transparency and impartiality in all government payments and funding for
media, be it for advertising, training, content, or straightforward

Based on extensive research from several media freedom groups and
reporting by numerous media outlets, Soft Censorship, Hard Impact offers
examples of soft censorship in thirty countries. It also summarizes
in-depth soft censorship reports on four countries—Hungary, Malaysia,
Mexico, and Serbia—from WAN-IFRA’s continuing series investigating soft
censorship in countries worldwide.

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