Proposal seeks fundamental change in broadcasting

A legislative proposal seeks to counter the mostly for-profit model of Costa Rica’s radio and television programming.

An organization, called Red de Medios e Iniciativas de Comunicación Alternativa, is seeking some 154,000 signatures to present to lawmakers.

The 36-page law contains echoes of the 1970-1980 U.N. debate for a New World Information Order.

A summary said that the bill seeks to interject more diversity into radio and television. The proposal seeks a law that creates a system of concessions with requirements, duties and rights for those who broadcast. It also seeks anti-monopolistic controls to prevent concentration of frequencies.

The organization notes that the Universidad Estatal a Distancia, has not been able to obtain a frequency since 2010.

Promotors of the proposal have been giving presentations and said in a summary Wednesday that the concept has gained support from the Federación de Estudiantes de la Universidad de Costa Rica, the Asociación de Estudiantes de Ciencias de la Comunicación Colectiva de la UCR, the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos, Patria Justa and the Sindicato de Periodistas.

The text and other information is on a Web site.

The promoters also point out that the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones said the broadcast frequencies were being misused in Costa Rica, mainly in what was called the duty of full coverage.

It also said the Superintendencia reported that there are 18 television concessions that are not active.

The thrust of the initiative clearly is against commercial broadcasting, but there is no mention of the broadcasting system now operated by the government.

The U.N. debate revolved around what was called the McBride Report. Costa Rica hosted a conference on the topic in 1976.

In that time the United States had withheld funding from the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization over concern for Israel, and a coalition of Mideastern and Socialist countries had taken over.

The concern then was about the domination of the developed world in the distribution of news and entertainment, the capitalistic model of communication as well as the use of satellites. The arrival of the Internet eliminated many of the concerns.

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