BANGLADESH: Make TV-radio autonomy functional

Roundtable participants believe Bangladesh Television will achieve autonomy when the RTI ordinance becomes law

The Daily Star
Saturday, September 21, 2008

Giving Bangladesh Television (BTV) and Bangladesh Betar autonomy will not yield any positive results if this autonomy cannot be made functional, said the speakers at a roundtable yesterday.

They observed that the present caretaker government had the scope to reform BTV and radio with appropriate policy to meet the long-standing demand of people.

The roundtable was organised jointly by the Prothom Alo and Dhaka University Mass Communications and Journalism Department Alumni Association at the office of the Prothom Alo in the city.

The speakers demanded formation of an independent and permanent broadcasting commission, financial freedom of the two organisations, presentation of news and views considering public interest, regular examination of BTV and radio programmes and submission of annual report to parliament to make the autonomy functional.

The present government could bring reforms in BTV and radio as it does not need to go from door to door in bringing reforms in these institutions," said Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, former president of Dhaka University Teachers' Association.

"We feel lucky as the Right to Information (RTI) Act has been passed finally. I think we need both RTI and autonomy. Once the government accepts RTI, eventually there will be no control over BTV and radio," said Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno.

"In a democratic modern society there should not be any control over BTV and radio," she added.

"Whoever runs the country, democratic or autocratic government, there is no provision for ensuring the accountability of these institutions. They even do not have any interaction with other departments," said Mamunur Rashid, a cultural personality.

"Freedom and facilities must be ensured if we want to make autonomy functional. We want such autonomy as will reflect people's will," said eminent actor Aly Zaker.

Robaet Ferdous, associate professor of mass communications and journalism department, presented a paper.

Chair of mass communications and journalism department Sheikh Abdus Salam and Deputy Editor Abdul Quayum moderated the programme while Joint Secretaries of the information ministry Kamal U Ahmed and Abu Tahir, Prof Shakhawat Ali Khan, Zafrin Zabin Chowdhury, senior communications officer of the Unicef, and Prothom Alo Editor Matiur Rahman were present at the roundtable.