Saturday, August 09, 2014

New broadcasting policy neither “restrictive” nor “protective”

SALEEM SAMAD

Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), an umbrella of countrywide journalist’s union on Saturday observed that the new policy was neither “restrictive” nor “protective”, but did not hesitate to express their discontentment over the new broadcasting policy announced last week.

The media professional leaders urged the government to institute an independent broadcasting commission at the soonest.

Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, president of BFUJ told a crowded press conference at Jatiya Press Club yesterday demanded of the government to announce a deadline for establishment of broadcasting commission and which will develop a proactive broadcasting policy with the stakeholders.

The BFUJ president flanked by Abdul Jalil Bhuiyan, secretary general, Khairuzzaman Kamal, treasurer and others described that the broadcasting policy which was gazetted last Wednesday was an outcome of the demand of the BFUJ.

He told a journalist that the policy will bring discipline within the vibrant electronic media. Bulbul understands that further discussion will reduce the crucial issues missing in the policy.

Bulbul, CEO of Boishaki Television remarked that the government is taking a dangerous path and unacceptable which is likely to be deemed as interference of independence of editorial policy of individual television channels.

BFUJ is critical of a section of the policy which says that all TV channels will have to develop Charter of Duties and Editorial Policy individually. The president warned that such advise will jeopardise the harmony in the electronic media, instead he urged that the such activity should be made by the commission.

BFUJ concern is with formation of enquiry committees. The leaders said the policy does not state the criteria of the members of the committee. The policy also does not state in how many days the probe body would be formed. Also no deadline has been mentioned for the probe committee to submit their report.

Regarding the blanket ban on broadcast of news/views critical of officers of the armed forces and law enforcing agencies, BFUJ said it is contradiction to the Right to Information Act. The information act allows media to report/publish issues of officers indulged in crime against humanity and corruption.

Bulbul, who is also a member of the drafting committee of the policy categorically said that the policy does not restricts nor says to control the most popular prime time talk shows.

He alleged that certain quarters to reap political mileage is misinterpreting that talks-shows would be controlled and TV channels would be punished for broadcast.

He regretted that the policy does not mention the hundreds of journalists, production team and technical staffs who give effort to keep the broadcast lively.

BFUJ expected that the policy provide transparency on issuance of licenses to broadcast media, but the policy does have any reflection on the multi-million taka investment in the electronic media industry, Bulbul lamented.

However, the journalist’s body expects that the relevant authority will address the concerns of BFUJ on their reservations regarding the weakness of the policy.

Saleem Samad is an Ashoka Fellow (USA) and a journalist with the Daily Observer.

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