I send my best wishes to all who have gathered in Colombo for the Third General Conference of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development.
The issues you will be discussing at this conference directly affect the lives and livelihoods of all men and women in the Asia-Pacific region. There, as elsewhere in our world, the impact of the electronic media is probably greater today than at any time in history. Rapid and radical technological change is opening the door to information access and exchange on an unprecedented scale, reshaping the way human beings communicate with each other and lead their lives. If well-managed, this holds enormous promise for the people of the Asia-Pacific region and the world – to improve health, trade, education, governance and ultimately, individual lives.
However, there is much work to be done to bring this revolution into the hands and homes of ordinary people everywhere. In the Asia-Pacific region, and elsewhere too, electronic media policy needs to be directed to the goal of building truly open information societies that benefit and empower all people. This is, of course, easier said that done. Policy makers, regulators, lawyers, and broadcasters have been forced to confront many difficulties and dilemmas arising from the electronic revolution, on issues as diverse as freedom of speech, property rights, and disparities in media access.
The Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development has an important role to play in helping to address these challenges, through its efforts to encourage dialogue on electronic media policy in the region. Your discussions and activities can help build more effective cooperation, not only across international borders, but also between the public and private sectors. I encourage all participants in this conference to work towards the goal of universal access to the fruits of new technologies, and to promote a media environment based on freedom of expression and tolerance of diversity. We at the United Nations remain committed to the same goals. Let us all work to ensure that the communication revolution that empowers all people, and nurtures tolerance among all peoples.