30 July 2003


Organized by UN, Switzerland, European Broadcasting Union as
Part of World Summit on Information Society


NEW YORK, 29 July -- Media leaders and international policy makers will take part in a landmark meeting broadcast worldwide from Geneva this December to discuss the role of the media in the information society and global issues ranging from violence to development.

The “World Electronic Media Forum” is being organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) together with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and Switzerland, as host government, from 9 to 11 December 2003.

A special event of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in Geneva, from 10 to 12 December, the Forum will be seen live by satellite around the world and include real-time contributions from several continents by television and over the internet.

Panels, workshops and keynote speeches over three days will explore the enhanced role of media in the information society, and examine such key topics as universal access to information, freedom of expression, cultural diversity, economic development, social cohesion and education.

Using the resources of the EBU, the NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the Forum will showcase the technological possibilities of modern media and be broadcast live by satellite and on the internet.  Satellite video links will bring together participants from a variety of locations around the world to interact with those in Geneva.  The Forum will also feature originally produced audiovisual materials and a Web site in nine languages, including the six official languages of the United Nations.  This Web site will play an important part both before and during the event.


The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and the President of the Swiss Confederation, Pascal Couchepin, are scheduled to open the Forum, which will be an important opportunity for media professionals from the developing world to meet and exchange views with their counterparts from industrialized countries.

During the opening session, the Presidents of the eight regional broadcasting unions will present the Secretary-General with the World Broadcasting Union’s Platform for the Summit.



Information and communications technologies are revolutionizing the way people live and relate to each other.  At the heart of this revolution is the power of technologies that enable information and knowledge to be accessed instantly, anywhere in the world. 

The World Summit will provide a unique opportunity for world leaders to agree, collectively and individually, to shape the future of the information society.  It will also enable them to harness the information and communication technologies revolution in the service of development and the fight to eradicate poverty, and to ensure that citizens are provided, through free and independent media, with culturally diverse content and full information to allow their democratic participation at all levels of society.

Themes to be addressed by the Forum, to be held, like the Summit, at Geneva's Palexpo Conference Centre, include the role of media freedom, independence and pluralism to foster democracy and good governance; violence in the media; cultural diversity; and setting the global agenda. 

Communications technology is not an end in itself, but rather a means of supplying and preserving information and content.  By taking advantage of the latest developments in satellite and web technology, the Forum will demonstrate how the new technologies have enhanced the capacity of the electronic media to fulfil their role in producing, gathering and distributing diverse quality content to meet the political, social and cultural needs of all societies, both in developed and developing countries. 

The Forum will conclude on 11 December with a series of parallel workshops that will highlight various issues at stake in the information society and help to elaborate the WSIS initiatives related to media.

The major part of the funding for the Forum will be provided by Switzerland.  Apart from the DPI and the EBU, the sponsoring organizations are:  the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation; NHK; RAI; Mediaset; and Fondation Geneve Place Financiere.

The Forum is the successor to the United Nations World Television Forums which were held in New York annually from 1996 to 2000.


Further Information, Contacts:

The United Nations is in the process of finalizing the legal and administrative arrangements for the Forum.  For updated information, including registration details, see the Forum Web site, www.wemfmedia.org

For further information on the Forum, please contact:  Guillaume Chenevière, Executive Director; tel.:  +41 (0)79 200 97 37, e-mail:  gcheneviere@wemfmedia.org or Yvette Morris, Chief, Radio and Television Section, United Nations Information Service (UNIS), Geneva; tel.:  +41 22 917 4606; +41 79 217 3064, e-mail:  ymorris@unog.ch.

For information on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which is being organised by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) with the support of the United Nations system, see www.itu.int/wsis.


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