Peter Horrocks, Director of BBC Global News called on authorities worldwide to protect the rights of journalists to report freely.
Horrocks spoke at The World Media Summit in Moscow today, a conference on the interface between technology, society and business and the media looking into journalistic ethics in a changing world.
Horrocks’s statement came after the International Press Institute said last week that 2012 has been the most deadly for international reporters, with 72 journalists killed so far this year.
He said, “We have seen an unprecedented threat to independent news from around the world. Journalists have faced threats to their lives, censorship through intimidation or faced terror charges in their search for alternative voices.”
“These challenges have never been so severe or varied, as the shocking deaths of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik in Syria have shown. Here in Russia, who can forget the killing of Anna Politkovskaya or the other journalists from Novaya Gazeta and other publications who were also killed in the pursuit of their work?”
Horrocks added, “Last year we lost a BBC reporter in Afghanistan who died doing his job. It is vital that all authorities protect the rights of journalists to report freely and when they meet death in the line of that duty, the authorities must investigate fully to ensure that those who seek to curtail journalistic freedom are deterred.”
He pointed out that there were additional concerns of “technological interference”, which “also prevents free journalism reaching its audiences.”
“As a global community of broadcasters and journalists, we should strongly condemn these acts of censorship and harassment and urge the abandonment of these restrictive practices.”
Horrocks made reference to the changing face of journalism worldwide and the reorganisation of the BBC World Service.
“The international news media is going through a revolution that puts the audience in charge. It is a convulsion that is testing every news organisation. With the web, social interactivity and globalisation, news brands are in a battle for attention and trust. Despite being the longest established global broadcaster, the BBC believes it can succeed just as well in this new world, because of its long-lasting values and its readiness to modernise.”