Published: Monday 15 December 2003

Participants in the first ever World Summit on the Information Society -- to be held in December this year -- met in Geneva for an extra round of negotiations on the text of the draft declaration. The extra round was held November 10-14, 2003. It had to be held because an earlier preparatory round in September had made little progress, due to major divergences over freedom of expression, the financing and role of the media and regulating the Internet.

According to a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and released November 13, 2003, about 610,000 Indians were infected with aids last year. The study, citing India's National Aids Control Organization, said more than 85 per cent of India's hiv cases are caused by unsafe sex. In four of the six most affected states, the virus was contracted by businessmen, men in the service sector and hotel employees.

In early November, Zimbabwe's minister of information and publicity, Jonathan Moyo, announced that new community radio stations would be established to produce and broadcast agricultural programmes and news in local languages. Media activists in Zimbabwe have welcomed the government's plans, but remain sceptical that the stations would be truly community-owned.

Friday, November 14, 2003, marked the opening of the first independent printing press in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgystan. It is funded by Freedom House, a Washington dc, usa-based advocacy group promoting the worldwide expansion of political and economic freedoms.

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