By Clare Wells
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Extra info for The UN, UNESCO and the Politics of Knowledge
But a close reading of the statements quoted at the beginning of this chapter would seem to show that it has come, over time, to be identified with what the former majority regards as the original spirit of an Agency or as being in the underlying interests of its survival, regardless of the immediate distribution of opinion as manifested in formal votes. As Western spokesmen proceed further and further down this road, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern the difference between this account of 'consensus' and straightforward assertion of Western policy preferences.
42 Countries with no indigenous news agencies expressed apprehension at the prospect of being overwhelmed by foreign and/or commercial information and cultural products, while Latin American spokesmen within UNESCO sought to qualify the principle of unlimited free flow by reference to respect for the values of cultural pluralism. 43 At the level of policy prescription, the positions of Third World countries at this time were largely uncoordinated: some States advocated legally binding restrictions; others permissive limits; and yet others moral codes.
The West, and especially the USA, spearhead technological advance in the communications sector and produce the bulk of the hardware traded internationally. Global flows of software or 'messages' (a term used to overcome what are viewed as overdrawn distinctions between news, entertainment and advertising) are also seen- to be dominated by the West. This is held to result, in part, from the resources available to the 'Big Four' news agencies based in the West, namely Associated Press (AP) , United Press International (UPI), Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters, and from the 'packages' of programming and commercial sponsorship by which poorer countries (as indeed a number of Western States with small domestic markets such as the Scandinavian countries and Israel 45 ) finance acquisition of the hardware.