SOUTH CAUCASUS MASS MEDIA DISCUSSES DIVERSITY

Baku Today, Azerbaijan
April 2 2006

A conference on diversity involving mass media representatives
from the South Caucasus states and elsewhere was held in Amsterdam,
Holland March 28-29.

The meeting was organized by the Mass Media Diversity Institute, with
support from some NGOs, the Foreign Ministry of Netherlands, and the
European Commission; representatives from 35 states participated.

The Mass Media Diversity Program in the South Caucasus was started
in 2002 in Tbilisi. Since then, conferences have been held in London
and Vienna. The most recent conference was conducted in Holland as
a result of the country's growing interest in the Caucasus region.

Participants in the conference discussed the role public broadcasting
plays in covering diversity, freedom of speech, tolerance, and regional
media initiatives.

The legal advisor of the OSCE's Higher Commission for National
Minorities' (HCNM), Dzenana Hadziomerovic, spoke about the importance
of supporting national minorities, and using their national languages
in the mass media. According to her, it is very important to take
into account the balance between the rights of minorities, protect
their identity, and promote its integration into the majorities.

According to the OSCE HCNM's recommendations, public television
stations should include components targeting national minorities in
their programming. In particular, they should provide broadcasts in
the languages of minorities.

According to the results of monitoring of South Caucasus's mass media,
which was conducted by Cardiff University, during the last year and
half television channels and newspapers in the South Caucasus countries
cover the problems of minorities in adequately. On the whole, the
countries of this region dedicated 4.2 percent of their programming
and articles to minority issues. Minority issues can be divided into
five categories: national, refugees, religious, invalids and sexual.

Research shows that inadequate attention is paid to sexual
minorities. More attention is given to the problems of refugees
and national minorities. As compared with Azerbaijan and Armenia,
Georgia's mass media is more active in reporting the problems of
minorities. At the same time it was noted that television channels
pay less attention to monitories than the print media.

The presentations of public TV companies in South Caucasian countries
shows they are all undergoing transition to change from state to public
control. The situation is better in Armenian Public TV, which was
has an audience encompassing 30 percent of the countries population,
while 20 percent of market advertisements are placed in their programs.

Special discussions were organized within the frameworks of the
conference, with the participation of Holland researchers and
journalists, to address the problems of South Caucasus, and political
and economic aspects of this region.