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Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 08:46 GMT
Rival for 'biased' Western media
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak
Malaysia's deputy prime minister opened the meeting
Developing countries are considering proposals to set up a news agency to counter the perceived domination and bias of the Western media.

Plans for the service top the agenda at a two-day summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which opened on Monday.

The proposed news agency would be internet-based and use reports from agencies and newspapers of its members.

The NAM is made up of 116 mainly developing nations.

If approved, the new agency would be operational by 2007, according to a draft document presented at the summit.

It would be based in the Malaysian capital and run by the country's national Bernama news agency.

The agency would help counter "the dissemination of discriminatory and distorted information of events taking place in developing countries" by the Western media, the document stated.

It said the agency would be a platform to "muster our strength and present our perspective to the world".

"There is no way that news agencies in the developing world can ever compete with their Western counterparts, let alone to effectively counter negative reports about their countries on their own," it added.

But the BBC's Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur says striking a deal will not necessarily be easy.

He says some members - like Indonesia - have a fiercely independent media and others, like North Korea and Burma, are not noted for their outspoken journalism.

The practicalities will also pose challenges such as choosing which languages to work in, says our correspondent.

A number of East Asian countries, Malaysia included, already operate a similar network and share information and articles.

However, most of the media in the region still rely heavily on agencies such as Reuters and the Associated Press for international news.

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