World Bank launches Broadcasting, Voice, and Accountability

Panelists at the World Bank launch of the book Broadcasting, Voice, and Accountability: A Public Interest Approach to Policy, Law, and Regulation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 17, 2008) – Acknowledging that a strong and independent media is a crucial ingredient for good governance, the World Bank has introduced what it calls the first comprehensive guidebook for the development of an independent broadcast media.

Broadcasting, Voice, and Accountability (University of Michigan Press) is the product of five years’ work by leading scholars, who developed the book as a guideline for developing countries to follow when building their own broadcast media infrastructure. The Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS) in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania provided consultancy and guidance in completing the book.

“We recognize that an independent media is crucial for good governance,” said Daniel Kaufmann, director of Global Programs and Governance, World Bank Institute. He called the book the first of its kind, a kind of guidebook for developing democracies.

During a two-hour panel discussion at the World Bank headquarters here in Washington, D.C., the authors discussed the book and took questions from the audience.

“We felt people needed a tool,” said Kreszentia Duer, New Business Development Leader, World Bank Institute, and one of the six authors of the book. “We recognize that broadcast media is unparalleled in its reach and ability to engage people immediately. Through broadcast media, people of different regions of the world can hear discussions about matters of importance to them in their own language.”

The nearly 400-page book contains information and guidelines on protecting basic freedoms of expression, and provides guidance – through both steps and “good practice” examples – on structuring, developing and implementing regulatory bodies, management of the broadcast frequency spectrum, and licensing requirements that make a broadcast media possible.

Paraphrasing the Indian economist and philosopher Amartya Kuman Sen, Steve Buckley, president, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (and one of the book’s authors) noted “There is no famine in a democracy with a free press.”

Professor Monroe E. Price, director of CGCS and another of the book’s authors, said the idea of “voice” as mentioned in the book’s title opens a spectrum of study opportunities for additional media. “Where does voice come in to play with new technologies and new media,” he asked.

The book is broken into three parts. Part One offers an overview of why a public interest approach to broadcast development and management makes sense. Guidance is offered in Parts Two and Three for government officials, media practitioners, and civil society to use in the development of a broadcast infrastructure.

In addition to Professor Price’s involvement, the full CGCS staff – Susan Abbott, Sylvie Beauvais, and Libby Morgan - assisted in the book’s development. Additional assistance was provided by Annenberg Ph.D. student Paul Falzone, who worked on the literature review and annotated bibliography.

The book is available via the World Bank, or by contacting the University of Michigan press.