The UK government on Wednesday committed 18 million pounds towards improving media freedom across the world and announced the creation of a new Global Media Defence Fund.
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt made the announcement at the first Global Conference for Media Freedom in London, also attended by an Indian delegation led by Prasar Bharati Chairman Surya Prakash.
“As the world’s largest democracy which is witnessing a massive media boom, we welcome such initiatives to strengthen media freedom across the world," Prakash said.
"Journalists working in conflict zones face a grave threat to their safety. Therefore a special fund for their defence is a welcome move,” he said.
The details of the new Global Media Defence Fund are yet to be finalised but the UK has said that it would be administered by the UNESCO and will support, train and provide legal support to journalists in the most dangerous parts of the world.
"Today we send a strong message that media freedom is not a Western but a universal value…. At its best, a free media both protect society from the abuse of power and helps to release the full potential of a country,” said Hunt, one of the leadership contenders in the ongoing British Prime Ministerial race.
The UK will provide 3 million pounds and Canada, the co-hosts of the Global Conference for Media Freedom will make an additional Canadian Dollar 1 million contribution to help kick-start the new fund.
Separately, from the UK’s Department for International Development funding, a 15 million pounds Protecting Media Freedom programme will seek to tackle the root causes of the global crisis in independent media.
"The open exchange of ideas through free media allows the genius of society to breathe, releasing the originality and creativity of the entire population. Societies which embrace free debate make a disproportionate contribution to the advance of human knowledge” added Hunt.
The two-day conference in London attended by hundreds of delegates from around the world, which runs until Thursday, is focussed on measures to help protect journalists around the world.
Leading human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, the UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Envoy on Media Freedom, will be heading High-Level Legal Panel on Media Freedom made up of a group of the world’s top legal minds to advise on legal measures that will help journalists do their jobs freely.