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ABU - Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union : ABU GA - Governments urged to consider public interest in planning broadcasting future

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10/17/2012 | 01:02pm CEST

Broadcasters across the Asia-Pacific have called on governments in the region to keep spectrum for public interest broadcasting when they switch over to digital television.

In what is being called the Seoul Declaration, the region's public broadcasters meeting in the Korean capital say the digital switchover frees space on the old analogue radio spectrum which should not just be sold for short term gain - it should be devoted to the public good.

Passed by more than 700 delegates attending the 49th General Assembly of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), the Seoul Declaration also asks all the region's broadcasters to work together to ensure the best public use of newly available frequencies.

ABU Secretary-General Dr Javad Mottaghi says that in the past several years, the upper part of the UHF frequency band, which is allocated for terrestrial television broadcasting, has been increasingly sought by mobile telecommunication operators for their use but that available frequency should be allocated to broadcasters: "the broadcasters' role is vital to the development of a sustainable global digital or knowledge economy, creation of employment, empowerment of women and enrichment of life and work in  the civil society." Dr Mottaghi said.

The declaration points to the so-called "digital wave" of new and convergent technologies sweeping the media and says: "The digital wave and the newly opened frequency band can be utilized in the creation, access, communication and consumption of social developmental services provided by the broadcasters in health, education, safety of environment for the benefit of individuals and communities in under-developed and deprived areas across the world."

It specifically calls on ABU members to "petition their national governments to get access to the frequency band opened by the analogue switch-off, in the best public interest.

"In allocation of the newly available spectrum, the national spectrum regulators and the governments in the Asia-Pacific [should] consider the legitimate needs for frequency spectrum of the TV broadcasting industry."

And it asks ABU members to "continue to produce radio and television programs, public service announcements and new media content highlighting these issues that will inform and inspire their audiences."

In a footnote to the declaration, the ABU General Assembly noted that "a young and vibrant generation in the Asia-Pacific region stands poised to reap the transformational rewards of the digital wave. Broadcasters in the region must also choose to embrace the transformation to better serve their audiences.

"In the wake of the digital terrestrial television transition, or analogue-switch-off, broadcasters also have a responsibility to ensure that terrestrial broadcasting fulfils the universal coverage obligation of the public media and continues to be a competitive platform and innovate."

Previous ABU declarations have included the ABU Declaration on Climate Change and Natural Disasters at the 2009 General Assembly in Mongolia.

The full text of the Seoul Declaration is available here.

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