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Broadcasting regulations of Bangladesh and a debate

| by Swadesh Roy writes from Dhaka

( September 1, 2014, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) In Bangladesh, private television is a new phenomenon; it has been started from 2000, but it has been spread recently. If anyone sees in very narrow sense, there are no broadcasting regulations in Bangladesh like the regulations of print and publications. It is true, in Bangladesh print and publications act is nothing more than the article 39 of the Bangladesh constitution. Article 39 says, “39(1) freedom of thought and conscience is guaranteed. (2) Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency of morality, or in relation of contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence- (a) the right of every citizen of freedom of speech and expression; and (b) freedom of the press, are guaranteed.”

According to this guide line of the constitution and the Penal Code of Bangladesh (PCB) is good enough for the press freedom of Bangladesh. Besides that, in Bangladesh constitution, article 7(1) says, “All powers in the Republic belong to the people, and their exercise on behalf of the people shall be effected only under, and by the authority of this constitution.” So it is clear, in Bangladesh every citizen can exercise his all kind of power under the constitution, Similarly press freedom can be exercised only under the constitution. Any person and any profession are not above the constitution.

Bangladesh government has now declared a broadcasting regulation according to the article 39 and article 7 of the constitution. Government is thinking that, like press and publication act for the newspapers and books, a regulation is needed for the broadcasting because in Bangladesh there is no regulation for television and radio. If anyone asks me, do you think this broadcasting regulation is needed? My answer will be negative. I will say, our constitution and PCB is good enough. There is no need of any extra broadcasting regulation. The editor, director even the journalists of the Radio, TV and newspapers are the citizen of Bangladesh; a citizen of Bangladesh must obey the constitution of Bangladesh. So he or she should run his media under the authority of constitution. Therefore, if he or she runs his media house under the constitution that is good enough for the people and the country; even for the government. Even it is obvious that, every working journalist should know the constitution and the related penal code and they should think every time before writing and broadcasting, is it under constitution or not? So press freedom and regulations all are depended upon the editing of the media. That is why some times the work of editor is compared with the work of president of a country. Both have to always be cautious regarding constitution and the people of the country. However, it is true many countries have a broadcasting regulation. In that sense, the Government of Bangladesh can think about it. Besides a group of journalists are interested on it even some union leaders of journalists who work with the government as a party worker, they insisted government. However, thanks to the government for not taking any step for bypassing constitution.

After all, the million dollar question is that, why the government is interested to make a broadcasting regulation? In my article, I have told that private television is a new phenomenon in Bangladesh. On the other hand Bangladesh is not a political established country besides in this country there are huge amount of terrorists' black money. The sector of private television is new, so in this sector there is huge shortage of experience manpower. Simultaneously, market is small, so there is an unethical competition. Besides these two, terrorists’ black money is working in many televisions. So they are trying to disestablish the government. Sometimes inexperience manpower pulls down the TV near to face book for lack of their quality, knowledge and experience. That is harmful for media. Even than anybody can say in Bangladesh, the broadcasting media is no better than social media. All over the world in many ways million or billion numbers of social reaction or social comment and some unedited news are coming out. We call that social media. But the world should think about this name. Media must be edited. Which we are calling social media, it is not edited. So it should not be called as media, it may be at least social forum. This so called social media or social forum and some irresponsible televisions of Bangladesh are now harmful for Bangladesh building healthy economy and washed out terrorism. Government has shut down in the mean time two televisions they were directly broadcasting against the constitution, they were broadcasting in favor of a terrorist group who wanted an Islamic fundamentalist constitution in Bangladesh. Besides that, terrorist groups of Bangladesh have hosted huge number of web pages and they are posting always fake and harmful matters for the country and for the people.

However, after declaring the broadcasting regulations, a group of journalists are very much against it but most of them are leaning with Jammat-E- Islami and Bangladesh Nationalist party, both are Islamic Fundamentalist party. Even some of them demand the release of one of the fundamentalist and criminal Mahamudur Rahaman who made ICT crime in favor of war criminal of Bangladesh, when he was a so-called editor. So this debate is not main concern. Now in Bangladesh, it is needed that, media should run under the authority of the constitution and need a strong ICT act. Besides Bangladesh should filter the social media or forum because it should remember that Bangladesh is a country, which was a den of terrorist, now it is being washed by the good leadership of Sheikh Hasina.

Swadesh Roy, Executive Editor, The Daily Janakantha,Dhaka, Bangladesh and he is a regular columnist for Sri Lanka Guardian, he can be reached swadeshroy@gmail.com

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