The Board of Directors of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has expressed serious concern about the apparent lack of progress in the Digital Migration process in West Africa, especially in view of the internationally mandated June 17 deadline for all countries to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting.
The Board noted that given the pervasiveness of television as a source of information for a large proportion of the population in West Africa and prevalence of analogue television sets in the region, the obvious inability of countries to meet the agreed deadline has potentially serious implications for access to information and freedom of expression in the region.
The concerns of the MFWA’s Board are contained in an 11-point Resolution adopted at the end of its two-day meeting in Porto Novo, Benin, on May 29, 2015.
“The Board also expresses deep concern about the low level of public awareness of the digital migration process and calls on the media and civil society groups in West Africa to support public education efforts to prepare citizens in their respective countries for the digital migration,” the Resolution noted.
The Resolution urged governments in West Africa to prioritise safety of journalists in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution on the Safety of Journalists and the issue of Impunity, and the recent UN Security Council Resolution on the Safety of Journalists.
The Security Council Resolution (Resolution 2222) adopted on May 27, 2015, urges Member States of the United Nations to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment for journalists, media professionals and associated personnel to perform their work independently and without undue interference.
The Board Resolution also touches on other critical issues relating to freedom of expression and press freedom in the West Africa region including concerns about lowering professional standards among the media in the region; the need for states to decriminalise defamation; and the need for governments and regional bodies in West Africa to make significant investments in ICTs and work collaboratively to promote internet rights and freedoms.
The full resolution is attached and can also be accessed here .
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