FIM took part in a new consultative meeting jointly organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) within the Make Listening Safe initiative. Underway for some years now, this initiative is pursuing the following three aims:
— Drawing up and implementing a world WHO-ITU standard aimed at reducing risks linked to the use of music listening devices (audio players and smartphones);
— Undertaking a campaign aimed at the general public to modify patterns of listening behaviour;
— Developing a regulatory framework for controlling recreational sound exposure.
Held from 17 to 19 February 2020 at WHO headquarters in Geneva, the meeting brought together acousticians, sound engineers, doctors, researchers, theatre operators and show organisers, musicians and hearing-impaired persons, as well as teenagers, since young people are one of WHO’s priorities.
WHO has declared 3 March World Hearing Day. In addition, it would like to invite the largest number of players in the live entertainment sector to subscribe to a commitment to the precautionary principle (currently being drafted), for which FIM will be consulted. Representatives of the entertainment sector pointed out, however, that this was a particularly sensitive exercise and that each word should be carefully weighed.
WHO Would like to invite the largest number of players in the live entertainment sector to subscribe to a commitment to the precautionary principle, for which FIM will be consulted
Developing a regulatory framework to control noise is a particularly complex and risky business. Although there can be no doubt that precautionary measures must be implemented at all performance venues and that the general public and professionals have to learn how to protect themselves better, including using earplugs if necessary, it is also crucial not to foster a climate of mistrust or implement legal provisions that would be so strict as to make them unenforceable. The consequences for the live entertainment sector, in particular the smallest venues whose means are very limited, could actually prove to be catastrophic. A subtle balance needs to be found, something that is made all the more difficult by the fact that WHO intends to make this a universal framework. FIM will be following this issue closely.
Finally, we should note that, thanks to the action of FIM, WHO has undertaken a cycle of interviews with musicians on the issue of sound exposure which will be taking place over the coming weeks.