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Bangladesh: Proposed broadcast policy to limit freedom of media

13 September 2011

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The Daily Star, 12 September 2011

Electronic Media: Restriction ready

Draft broadcast policy proposes provisions to limit freedom of media

M Rahman

A draft national broadcasting policy has barred private television channels, radios and Internet protocol TVs from broadcasting any program making derogatory comments about national figures like Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a high official said yesterday.

The draft also forbids programs that may pose threat to national security and sovereignty and may seem satirical to national ideology, said the Information Ministry official speaking on condition of anonymity.

These are some of the provisions proposed in the country’s first draft National Broadcasting Policy submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Ministry on July 31.

The draft said the authorities of private television channels, radios and internet protocol televisions will be held responsible if the government finds them airing distorted or irrelevant information in their programmes, including talk shows.

The broadcasting companies must take permission of Information Ministry before transferring ownership, said the official.

The policy also discourages character assassination of any person, but his/her activities can be discussed. The broadcasting organizations must be careful so that they do not broadcast any information regarding army or the government which may pose threat to national security.

Another provision of the draft policy asked the private electronic media not to use vulgar films or programmes produced locally or abroad which are contrary to the values of the country.

They must not air any programme against a friendly foreign country that may harm the relationship.

No programme which shows new tactic in committing crimes will be tolerated, the policy said. The electronic media will also be discouraged to show horrible and disgusting acts and gruesome pictures of dead and injured people.

No political propaganda or views of any political party will be allowed to broadcast and political figures, foreign diplomats and national heroes can not be used to promote commercial products.

The draft policy also makes it mandatory for the broadcasters to air the government approved programs, including speeches of the President and the Prime Minster and press notes.

Any advertisement relating to religious functions like wajmahfil, urs, and puja, will need prior permission from the government.

The draft policy states that the Information Ministry will decide on the matters which are not mentioned in the policy.

However, the Information Ministry official said they prepared the draft in a manner so none of its provisions conflicts with the constitutional rights of freedom and expression or the Right to Information Act.

He added the government will place the draft broadcasting policy on online for eliciting public opinion. It will also discuss the policy with the private broadcasting organizations and other stakeholders.


The above report from The Daily Star (Bangladesh) is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use