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Press release

UNICEF challenges global media: 'Harness your power for the world's children'

NEW YORK, 16 April 2004 – UNICEF will issue a strong challenge next week to the world’s mass media to harness their power for the good of all children, millions of whom are currently excluded from the potential benefits of globalization and the Information/Communication Revolution.

Executive Director Carol Bellamy will issue the challenge as part of her keynote address at the opening of the 4th World Summit on Media for Children and Adolescents, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (19-23 April).

Organized by the host city’s MULTIRIO media arm and MIDIATIVA, and co-sponsored by UNICEF, the event is expected to attract some 2,000 media executives, producers, educators, researchers and journalists, as well as 150 young people from around the world who are involved in innovative media projects.

Bellamy will call on participants “not only to celebrate the many examples we have of excellence in programming for children, but also to find creative alternatives to media trends that are harmful to children.”

“Kids everywhere love the media,” Bellamy will tell those at the conference, “but they are demanding something more, something better than what they are getting.”

UNICEF will also call on governments and parliaments everywhere to re-think their current media policies, laws and regulations, taking into account their impact on children.
Young people’s concerns about the media are coming to light in an electronic forum sponsored by UNICEF’s Voices of Youth website on the occasion of the Summit.  Messages posted by children and teens from across the globe are calling for relevant and culturally-diverse programming; a halt to the negative representations of adolescents in the media; and for opportunities to influence the media as consumers and producers of media.   

In response, UNICEF will use the opportunity of the Summit – whose theme is “Media for All, Media from All – to host an intergenerational dialogue on 21 April, in which youth and broadcast executives will attempt to bridge the gap between media decision-makers and their young audiences.

A UNICEF-sponsored report on media trends and children’s rights, prepared especially for the Summit, outlines the opportunities and risks for children in the world media landscape.  It notes that the media can “make a real difference in children’s lives around the world by informing them, listening to them and ultimately empowering them.”

The Summit will also see the launch of Action 17, a network of Latin American and Caribbean journalists committed to improving coverage of children’s issues.  Taking its name from media-focused Article 17 of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the new network is an initiative of UNICEF’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean and ANDI, a Brasilia-based NGO with branches in nine countries in the region.

The summit is expected to issue a “Rio Letter on Media for Children and Adolescents” at its closing session next Friday, highlighting the social responsibilities of media and the need for more child-friendly programming, with a human rights perspective.  

For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 158 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. 




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