Live 8: Disinformation Campaign and Public Relations Stunt


Richard Moore

Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2005 14:41:18 -0700 (Pacific Standard Time)
From: "marguerite hampton" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fw: Africa: Default on Your Debt
-------Original Message-------


                      Live 8: Corporate Media Bonanza
                       Disinformation Campaign and Public Relations Stunt
                                                  On Behalf of the G8

By Michel Chossudovsky
July 5, 2005

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) to increase
foreign aid flows and cancel the debt of the World's poorest

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

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 licensed 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, 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 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 and the IMF, 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
target. ( )

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 your
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

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,

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole
responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect
those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

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© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky,, 2005


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