Disinformation Campaign and Public Relations Stunt on behalf of the G8

Live 8: Corporate Media Bonanza

8 July 2005 by Michel Chossudovsky

Live 8, “the greatest concert” ever aired live, has been presented to World public opinion as an “awareness campaign” in solidarity with Africa. Its stated objective was to put pressure on the Group of Eight leaders (G8 G8 Group composed of the most powerful countries of the planet: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA, with Russia a full member since June 2002. Their heads of state meet annually, usually in June or July. ) to increase foreign aid flows and cancel the debt of the World’s poorest countries.

In the words of its promoter Bob Geldof, Live 8 has provided a “unique opportunity” to save a continent from a humanitarian disaster.

The Live 8 concerts organized in the eight major industrial countries (as well as in South Africa), however, were not intended to raise money for the World’s poorest countries.

In fact quite the opposite.

Live 8 is a multimillion dollar undertaking, which will result in huge profits for its corporate sponsors including AOL Time Warner, the US based media giant, the Ford Motor company, through its Swedish affiliate Volvo and Nokia, the cell phone company, not to mention Britain’s EMI Music Group, which has entered into a highly lucrative arrangement with the Live 8 organizers.

AOLTime Warner controls the US broadcasting rights which it has licenced to the Walt Disney Company for broadcast TV on ABC and a myriad of affiliated TV and radio stations, including Premiere Radio Networks, XM Satellite Radio and Viacom’s MTV Networks (for cable TV). AOL also holds the exclusive online rights for the event on the internet.

TV air-time has been auctioned off around the world. Millions of dollars of advertising revenues are expected from the broadcasting of the event, not to mention the repeats, the video-clips, the internet broadcasting and the DVDs, which will be available commercially.

According to the producers, Live 8 will go down as “the biggest global broadcast in history”. The organizers expect —through TV, radio and the internet— to reach some 5.5 billion people, or 85 per cent of the world’s population. The advertising industry places the number of potential viewers at a conservative two billion, approximately one third of the World’s population.

By far this is largest media advertising operation in history, which will line the pockets of the promoters, producers, corporate sponsors, not to mention the royalties accruing to the performers and “celebrities”. A small percentage of the proceeds might accrue to charitable organizations involved in developing countries but this is not the stated objective of Live 8.

The Ford Motor Company has used the event to promote its “up-market” Swedish car division Volvo, with advertising spots during the US broadcast.

Volvo has also provided for artist transportation to and from the London and Philadelphia concerts as well as a VIP entertainment suite at the Philadelphia concert. (See www.adage.com/news, June 30, 2005).

“The event, said company spokesman Soren Johansson,”fits with the DNA of the company“and”appeals to peoples emotions.“One of Volvo’s TV spots features ’Volvo for Life” award-winner Rosamond Carr, “who operates an orphanage in Rwanda, and two others talking about Volvos values and their reasons for Live 8 involvement.” (Ibid)

Moreover, Vonage, the US based phone company is said to have spent “’six figures’ to become a primary sponsor of Premiere Radio Networkscoverage”. And will also run a Live 8 schedule on MTV Networks.

The EMI Deal

In a multimillion dollar agreement with the Live 8 organizers, Britain’s EMI Music Group has secured the exclusive rights on the DVDs of the concerts in six of the G8 countries including the US, France, Britain, UK, Italy and Germany:

An EMI spokeswoman said that once sales had paid for the advance, Live 8 would pay a ’very generous royalty rate’ to Live 8 on the rest of the sales.

In the words, of Bob Geldof, “I hope this will be the biggest-selling DVD of all time.

Meanwhile, the event has contributed to boosting stock market values with EMI’s share Share A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset, representing one part of the total capital stock. Its owner (a shareholder) is entitled to receive an equal distribution of any profits distributed (a dividend) and to attend shareholder meetings. price triple its 2003 level.

Distorting the Causes of Global Poverty

The concerts are totally devoid of political content. They concentrate on simple and misleading clichés.

They use poverty as a marketing tool and a consumer-advertising gimmick to increase the number of viewers and listeners worldwide.

Live 8 creates an aura of optimism. It conveys the impression that poverty can be vanquished with the stroke of the pen. All we need is good will. The message is that G8 leaders, together with the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

and the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

, are ultimately committed to poverty alleviation.

In this regard, the concerts are part of the broader process of media disinformation. They are used as a timely public relations stunt for Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is hosting the G-8 Summit at Gleneagles, Scotland. Tony Blair is presented as stepping up his campaign to convince other G8 nations “to take action on poverty”.

The G8’s Debt Forgiveness Proposal

Live 8 fails to challenge or comprehend the G8 policy agenda which directly contributes to creating poverty, nor does it question the role of the World Bank, now under the helm of Paul Wolfowitz, the neo-conservative architect of the invasion of Iraq,

In addressing the issue of debt forgiveness, Live 8 does not even acknowledge the impacts of IMF-World Bank “economic medicine” imposed on the World’s poorest countries on behalf of Western creditors.

These deadly macro-economic reforms have contributed to the impoverishment of miillions of people. They oblige countries to close down their schools and hospitals, privatize their public services and sell off the most profitable sectors of their national economy to foreign capital. In return, the G8 promises to increase foreign aid and provide token debt relief. These reforms kill and the G8 is not the solution but the cause. Actor Will Smith addressed the crowds at the concert venues “to snap their fingers” as a reminder that every three seconds a child dies in Africa. What he failed to mention is that the main cause of child mortality in Africa are the deadly macroeconomic reforms.

Bob Geldof sees an increase in foreign aid completely out of context, as a “unique opportunity” to eradicating poverty, when in fact the proposed increase in aid flows by the rich G8 countries will lead to exactly the opposite results.

A large percentage of the debt of these countries is owed to the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank

To address this issue, G8 finance ministers had indeed put forth a proposal which consisted in “foregiving” the outstanding debt owed to these three international financial institutions by the 18 highly indebted countries. The debt forgiveness figure mentioned was of the order of 40 billion dollars. Concurrently, there was a vague commitment to eventually increasing foreign aid flows to the 0.7% of GDP GDP
Gross Domestic Product
Gross Domestic Product is an aggregate measure of total production within a given territory equal to the sum of the gross values added. The measure is notoriously incomplete; for example it does not take into account any activity that does not enter into a commercial exchange. The GDP takes into account both the production of goods and the production of services. Economic growth is defined as the variation of the GDP from one period to another.
target. (www.g8.utoront o.ca/finance/fm05061... )

Where is the hitch behind this seemingly reasonable “debt forgiveness” proposal?

The IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, never cancel or forgive outstanding debts.

Because they do not forgive debts, the G8 has committed itself to reimbursing the multilateral creditors acting on behalf of the World’s poorest countries.

Where will they get the money?

For each dollar of “debt cancellation” to the international financial institutions, the G8 will reduce the flow of foreign aid to these countries. In other words, the foreign aid earmarked to finance much needed social programs will now go directly into the coffers of the IMF and the World Bank.

There is nothing new in this financial mechanism. It has been used time and again since the onslaught of the debt crisis.

“Social Safety Net” for the IMF and the World Bank

What we are dealing with is not a debt forgiveness program, but a “reimbursement” process which directly serves the interests of the creditors.

The deal constitutes a much needed “social safety net” for the multilateral creditors. It ensures a cash flow towards these institutions, while maintaining the World’s poorest countries in the stranglehold of the IMF and the World Bank. It also prevents these countries from declaring default on their external debt.

President Bush has made it very clear. The money paid to the World Bank on behalf of the countries, will be “taken out of existing aid budgets.

The “debt forgiveness” program, even if it is accompanied by an increase in foreign aid commitments, will result in a significant compression of real foreign aid flows to the highly indebted countries.

The proposed increases in foreign aid commitments are ficticious since the money is intended for the multilateral creditors. And the deal will only be implemented if the indebted countries promise to carry out the usual gamut of “free market” reforms, under IMF/World Bank supervision.

An added condition emanating directly from the Bush administration pertains to “governance”. It requires these countries to “democratize” on the US model under Western supervision, as well as carry out “free elections” on the example of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Concluding Remarks

The concerts serve to usefully distract public attention from the US-UK led war on Iraq and the broader relationship between war and global poverty. Not a word is mentioned in the concerts on the fact that George W. Bush and Tony Blair are considered “war criminals” under international law.

Moreover, Live 8 tends to undermine all forms of meaningful and articulate dissent to the G8 policy agenda. With the exception of the South African venue, which included the appearance of Nelson Mandela, the concerts are devoid of a broader understanding and commitment.

Live 8 undermines both the anti-globalization and anti-war movements. It diverts public opinion and distracts media attention from the G8 protest movement. It also serves to undermine the articulation of more radical voices against the New World Order.

More generally, the event instills an atmosphere of ignorance among the millions who listen to the music and who have the feeling of doing something positive and constructive. But none of the core elements needed to understand the causes of global poverty are presented.

To the Live 8 corporate sponsors, including Bob Geldof, the EMI Group, AOL Time Warner, The Ford Motor Company, Nokia, MTV, the Walt Disney Company, etc. “Put your money where you mouth is.

If you are really committed to poverty alleviation, give the entire proceeds of this multimillion dollar media operation, including the revenues generated by the corporate sponsors, TV networks, advertising firms, royalties accruing to celebrities and performers, to the people of Africa. Let them use this money as they see fit, without interference from donors and creditors.

To the people of Africa. Do not let yourself be deceived by a giant corporate media stunt where poverty is used as a logo, to attract consumers and make money. Default on your debt to the IMF and the World Bank.

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and the New World, Second Edition, Global Research, 2003.

Source: GlobalResearch.ca.



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