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September 27, 2006

Current state of play on the proposed Broadcast Treaty

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We have commented in an earlier blog entry on the status of the Broadcast Treaty, and on the fact that the Treaty's language not only doesn't seem ready for prime time, but that it also contains some troublesome language regarding cultural diversity, access to knowledge, and mandatory limitations and exclusions that would become very problematic if they became standard template language for future agreements.

This morning the Broadcast Treaty came up on the agenda. At the end of everyone's interventions (more than 40), it was clear that pretty much everyone supports the idea of theTreaty, and most who spoke supported going to a diplomatic conference as scheduled in 2007, but several countries expressed concern that the language simply isn't in sufficient shape to move to a diplomatic conference.

The Chairman has asked for there to be informal consultations this afternoon on how to proceed.

"Informal consultations" means real negotiations. In informal consultations countries who actually care about the issue to speak freely off-the-record and free of the pressure that comes from speaking in the General Assembly on the record. In informal consultations is where the real horse-trading takes place, and it's also where vested interests state where they draw lines and what the deal-breakers are.

My guess is that there will be a proposal to have perhaps one additional Standing Committee meeting in the first half of next year, and to keep the scheduled diplomatic conference for the 2nd half of 2007. Otherwise, what will happen is for there to be 2 more Standing Committee meetings in 2007, and we'll go through this all over again next year and see if a diplomatic conference can be scheduled for 2008.

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