media freedom

Providing free, independent access to news and information is integral to cohesive societies, to building democracy and to creating prosperity. Yet media organisations and their staff are being subjected to ever greater numbers of attacks, often verbal, increasingly often more pernicious

The Association for International Broadcasting is facilitating a collaborative campaign among its Members to raise awareness of the need for and importance of media freedom.

There are five principal outward facing aims of the AIB’s work in media freedom:

  • Influencing governments to adopt and endorse media freedom;
  • Influencing governments to put in place robust mechanisms to protect media freedoms;
  • Influencing opinion leaders to promote media freedom;
  • Influencing fellow broadcasters to join the global initiative;
  • Influencing public opinion in territories worldwide through collaborative creative on-air campaigns.

To carry out this work, the Association has formed a Steering Group to drive the initiative. We are building a global database of infringements of media freedom and we are developing a series of on-air campaigns about media freedom.

We are also supporting the work of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO] that in 2019 chose media freedom as its major campaign. On 10-11 July 2019, the FCO organised the Global Conference, co-hosted by the Canadian government, bringing together foreign ministers of many countries to discuss issues around media freedom. The Association for International Broadcasting has worked extensively with the FCO in developing this important event that will focus the world’s attention on media freedom.

In Q3 2020 (pandemic restrictions permitting), Canada will host the second Global Conference. The AIB is engaged with Global Affairs Canada on plans for this landmark continuation of the media freedom initiative.

Our annual awards for factual productions, the AIBs, contribute to this important work on the vital issue of media freedom by showcasing the work of journalists and investigative teams across the world – often work that holds power to account. The work that is submitted to our international judges each year represents the very best of balanced, impartial journalism that is an essential strand of media freedom globally.

For more information about the Association for International Broadcasting’s work on media freedom, contact the Secretariat. To join the AIB Media Freedom Steering Group, use the form here.

Media freedom is inextricably linked with economic growth and the development of a rules-based democracy

Simon Spanswick

Chief Executive, AIB | Association for International Broadcasting


On World Press Freedom Day 2019, the BBC released a video highlighting the continuing aggressive campaign that is being waged against the staff of BBC Persian and their families, both in the UK and in Iran.

AIB – responding to media freedom issues

The AIB has responded to threats to media freedom in Pakistan and the Philippines.

In Pakistan, the National Accountability Bureau filed charges over allegations dating back 30 years against Mir Shakhil-ur-Rahman, editor-in-chief of Geo TV. Geo TV is part of Jang Media Group. 

Read the story here.

In the Philippines, the AIB has protested the shutdown of ABS-CBN, the country’s most-watched TV broadcaster. The network’s franchise – held for the last 25 years – was not renewed as a result of attempts in parliament to silence the broadcaster. 

Read this story here.

“The AIB is a key partner” says Global Affairs Canada official

Writing in the entry book of the AIBs 2020 Shelley Whiting, the Director-General, Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion at Global Affairs Canada, has said that she is pleased that “the AIB has put media freedom squarely on its agenda”.

Ms Whiting continues, saying that “a thriving media environment relies on the critical day to day work of media professionals. The AIB Awards provide an important way in which the work of such remarkable individuals around the world can be celebrated.”

Read more here. 

AIB Submission to Australian Parliamentary Enquiry

Read the AIB’s submission to the Australian PCJIS 

AIB submission to Australian Senate Inquiry

Read the AIB submission to the Australian Senate Inquiry into Media Freedom

AIB CEO Sydney Morning Herald op-ed November 2019

Read the op-ed article written by AIB CEO Simon Spanswick published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 6 November 2019

The AIB is active in responding to infringements of media freedom in territories worldwide.

In 2019, it made detailed submissions to two Australian parliamentary inquiries that were established in response to the Australian Federal Police raids on the ABC and journalist Annika Smethurst. The Senate Inquiry has asked the AIB to provide oral evidence in its continuing work on this issue and  AIB CEO Simon Spanswick will appear before the Senate Committee in February 2020.

In November 2019, the AIB held its second media freedom meeting for Members and others from across the industry.

The meeting was generously hosted by Doughty Street Chambers and two barristers from the chambers took part. This meeting was supported by Al Jazeera Media Network.

Guests joined the event from across the world, demonstrating the importance of the subject to media companies large and small.


The AIB acknowledges the support of Al Jazeera Media Network for our work on media freedom through its event partnership of our annual awards, the AIBs, in 2018 and 2019.