The human needs and dilemmas encountered in emerging from the colonial concept of the freedom of communication to the current concept of the right to communicate are treated in this theoretical essay. First the author explores the concepts of human needs from several viewpoints, such as the deficiency and growth needs postulated by Maslow. The free flow concept is related to growth needs essential to socialization. Its application is idealistic, however, because of various legal, historical, psychological, institutional, economic and sociological dilemmas. The international free flow of TV broadcasts, for example, is dysfunctional because this medium tends to be used by the less bright, less educated and more passive members of the population. Economic dilemmas are created by the requirement for universal rights, while only the economically powerful can enjoy them. Individual and societal rights and needs must be balanced. Scholarly arguments derived from the old world seem less important in the face of real problems in developing nations. It is imperative to design cross-cultural research programs to define individual and social communication needs, and to set policies leading to better understanding among nations and the role of communications in the modernizing developing world.
In Evolving perspectives on the right to communicate, edited by Jim Richstad and L.S. Harms. Honolulu, Hawaii: East-West Center, East West Communication Institute (1977).