Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 54/15



R 54/15


New Report


Freedom of expression, diversity, pluralism and inclusion of new voices in digital television


Washington, D.C., May 21, 2015. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression presents the thematic report "Freedom of Expression Standards for the Transition to a Diverse, Plural and Inclusive Free-to-Air Digital Television", recently approved by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). This is a current topic in the region, given that several countries are in full transition from analogue to digital free-to-air TV and others have not even begun this process which involves a deep technological change and decision-making can affect the right to freedom of expression.


Digitization enables the convergence of content and platforms across multiple network types, whether the spectrum, optical cables or satellite broadcasts. With the digitization, audiovisual media can improve their quality of transmission while saving in the use of radio frequencies that allow the existence of more television signals.


The role of media in a democratic society implies that any decision on the transition to digital television must observe the guarantees related to the exercise of freedom of expression, legal certainty and the promotion of diversity principles and pluralism in all platforms.


It is necessary to establish principles for the issuance and implementation of laws to regulate the technical aspects of this process, but also in order to promote pluralism and remove cultural or linguistic barriers to access to various sources of information and take this unique opportunity to avoid or reduce the concentration of media outlets in few operators.


One of the objectives of the process of implementing digital television in the region should be to achieve more diverse and plural media systems than those existing nowadays with analog technologies. States should assess the possibilities resulting from spectrum savings and specify the use of the various digital dividends to be released at the end of the transition.


In this document, the Office of the Special Rapporteur gives an overview of best legal and regulatory practices that are taking place in the hemisphere, considering this technological change as an opportunity to increase the diversity of voices and enable access to new sectors on the media.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur also put general principles of protection of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the context of the transition to digital broadcasting for States and civil society in the region. These principles seek to provide guidance to governments, legislative and administrative bodies, courts and civil society, to pave the way in this conceptually and technically innovative stage, and promote the revision and adoption of laws and practices, in order to ensure full respect for the right to freedom of thought and expression, and greater inclusion of stakeholders in this process.


To read the report, click here.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the IACHR to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.