A three-day Global Media conference has opened in Bonn, Germany on Monday, June 13, 2016 with the title, “Media Freedom Values.”
Opening the forum, the Deutsche Welle-DW Director-General, Peter Limbourg said, “Freedom of speech and freedom of the press were increasingly facing limitations the world over; in order to counter the culture of disinformation and manipulation; we need to rethink the way in which we perceive, demonstrate and spread our values.”
Limbourg welcomed more than 2,000 guests from over 100 countries, including representatives from a number of partner broadcasters at the 9th annual media conference.
The DW Director-General further stated that, “Only when people are able to communicate freely, there will be change.
This is in the possibility to share ideas and values with others and the chance to inspire those who are still under the control of dictatorial regimes.”
Deutsche Welle has positioned itself on a path to digitalisation and drawn upon more than 4,000 partners from around the world.
Part of this strategy includes co-productions with partners, to the benefit of both parties.
According to him, “This is first in international broadcasting and an important step in recognising the value of the contribution of regional partners. We truly appreciate the local expertise and perspective which our regional partners contribute.”
Limbourg lamented the state of affairs in which instead of preserving the universal prestige of the right to speak one’s mind, limitations are being placed on laws protecting freedom of expression.
He cited Turkey, where critical media personalities are being suspended by members of President Erdogan’s governing party, and where unwelcome journalists are labelled terrorists and thrown in prison.
“In the heart of the EU, freedom of the press cannot be taken for granted,” Director General stated..
With an eye cast on the national-conservative powers in Hungary and Poland, Limbourg said, “But nothing and I stress, nothing, justifies a limitation of the freedom of expression to be rooted within a democratic constitution.”
Limbourg referred to the example of Germany; “Even here in Germany, the enemies of the freedom of the press are at work. Right-wing populists of all shapes have problems with tolerance and with a diversity of opinion.”
Journalists themselves can endanger freedom of the press.
He stressed that, “If they don’t research with due diligence, if they copy without checking the facts, or if they scandalise every harmless occurrence thus, they provide arguments to their enemies.”
Limbourg closed with the statement, “The end of the freedom of expression is also the beginning of the end of democracy. There are simply no more excuses when this point is reached. Each and every one of us is called upon, to stand up and demand the freedom of expression loud and clear.”