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NGO media centers set to open (June 24, 2008)

Executive committee members announce the establishment of Citizens Media Centers (CMCs)

G8 Citizens Media Centers (CMCs) will be opened at three Sapporo locations from June 30 for NGOs to release news on the Hokkaido Toyako Summit. Although the establishment of CMCs has become a custom at recent summits, it is the first time they have been set up in Japan, and their concept remains unfamiliar with Japanese people. The center's executive committee is making efforts to promote the acceptance of the CMCs through interaction with the public.

The G8 Citizens Media Center Sapporo Executive Committee, made up of NGOs from Hokkaido and elsewhere, announced the inauguration of the facilities on June 23. The Clark Memorial Student Center, the former Sapporo Guest House, and a private building in Sapporo's Chuo-ku have been chosen as sites for the centers. The CMCs are designed for use as press conference sites as well as for radio broadcasting and video editing for several hundred journalists not affiliated with the main body of the press, such as smaller civic media and NGOs, and will be available from June 30 to July 11.

At the former Sapporo Guest House, spaces for interaction with the public will also be set up, and film shows and symposiums on citizens' media will be conducted with the aim of introducing the activities of NGOs and civic media reporters to the public. Kazuomi Takiguchi, representative of the committee, commented, "I hope the centers will serve as places to demonstrate the possibilities and roles of civic media worldwide and create a deeper understanding of them."

With the development of the Internet, CMCs are taking root as sites for NGOs to transmit information during summits. The CMC set up for last year's summit in Germany had over 1,000 users, sending information on public life and NGO activities around the world. However, facilities of this kind are not popular in Japan; donations to cover the operational expenses of the Sapporo centers have fallen approximately a million yen short, and a civic reporter training program planned by the committee was cancelled due to a lack of participants. A committee member commented, "We must make efforts to attract as much public attention as possible to the CMCs.

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