UN chief calls on Asian media to bridge digital divide

08:30, May 25, 2011      

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Tuesday called on delegates to an Asian media summit to bridge the digital divide that can separate rich and poor depending on their access to modern telecommunications, UN officials said here.

The 8th Asian Media Summit (AMS-8) opened in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi on Tuesday, which attracted about 600 delegates from more than 50 countries in the region and other parts of the world.

"Let us work together to bridge the digital divide, so that all people can benefit," he said in a video message to the MAS-8.

"Let us promote multiple languages in new media," he said. "And let us ensure free access to the Internet and social media tools everywhere."

The digital divide refers to the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socio- economic levels with regard both to their opportunities to access information and communications technologies and to their use of the Internet for a wide variety of activities.

It includes the imbalance both in physical access to technology and the resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen. Knowledge divide reflects the access of various social groupings to information and knowledge, typically gender, income, race, and by location. The term global digital divide refers to differences in access between countries in regards to the Internet and its means of information flow.

"Freedom of expression, information and association are not abstract principles; they are bedrock rights that states have an obligation to fulfill," he said. "All of this is essential to make the most of the power of digital media to transform lives and societies for good."

Ministers, general directors, policy makers, leading experts and scholars in the fields of broadcasting and press took part in the two-day summit, under the topic "Broadcasting in the digital era."

The annual meeting, organized by the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development, provides a forum for media agencies in the region to share their experiences and ideas on radio and television broadcasting and technology.

The secretary-general's remarks echoed comments made earlier this month on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, when he urged policy-makers to do more to ensure rural communities are able to take advantage of the latest technologies and not fall victim to the digital divide.

"As we bridge the digital divide, we narrow the chasm that separates those with and without access to information and knowledge, thereby broadening opportunities for a better life," he said.

Source: Xinhua
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