This issue of the Regulation, Media and Convergence Observatory (OBSERVACOM) newsletter is a special edition focused on the reports “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development: Regional Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean” and “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development: Special Digital Focus 2015,” both of which were published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The reports present challenges related to preserving freedom of expression and information globally and in Latin America and the Caribbean. These developments are unfolding within a unique context in which old and new problems related to the exercise of this right are combined in both analogue and digital environments. This condition broadens the intense debates that have taken place on an ongoing basis over the last decade in Latin America with the approval of regulatory frameworks and public policies that often contradict the standards of freedom of expression established in both the inter-American and universal systems of human rights.
The existence of independent regulators that are sufficiently shielded from the undue influence of political or economic powers; the guarantee of pluralistic, diverse and independent media systems; and the preservation of freedom of expression regardless of the technological platform on which it is exercised are central issues for the media and governments and for our societies in general as they are directly linked to the quality of democracy and the exercise of other civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
In recognition of the fact that broadcasting and new technologies such as the Internet are privileged platforms for the exercise of freedom of expression, their regulation should meet the demands of social inclusion in order to improve the quality of democratic debate along with the political and social participation of the majority.
The reports developed by UNESCO offer a comprehensive assessment that should be taken into account by states, regulators, public policy designers, academia and civil society as an input for the drafting of regulatory proposals meant to provide responses to the challenges of our times in order to guarantee one of the most precious freedoms of our democracies: free expression of thought and information.