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Independent broadcast commission demanded

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Staff Reporter
Rights activists in Dhaka yesterday urged the government to form an independent broadcast commission, which will have no political influence.
They made the call while speaking at a discussion titled ‘National Broadcast Policy 2014: Concern & Way Forward’, at Cirdap auditorium in the morning.
ARTICLE 19, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Bangladesh Nari Sangbadik Kendra (BNSK), IED, Mass Line Media Centre (MMC), Media Watch, Nijera Kori and Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) jointly organized the discussion.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), said some of the provisions of the newly-announced national broadcast policy are contradictory to the Right to Information Act.
He said the government should now proceed to form an independent Broadcast Commission and leave the development of content related to guidelines of the policy to the commission members.
Pointing out the anomalies of the policy with the Constitution, Barrister Sara Hossain said the policy has raised concerns, it contains a long list of regulations relating to content and advertisement including those on ‘hatred’, ‘incitement to violence’, ‘ethnic and religious hatred’, ‘hostility’, and ‘obscenity’ concepts that require extensive discussions and elaborations and as such they should not form part of guidelines.
Shamsuddin Haider Dalim, Chief of News, Production and Training, Maasranga Television, said any broadcast policy needs to address the issues of job security, training in the electronic media.
Tahmina Rahman, director of ARTICLE 19 Bangladesh, in her opening remarks said that since the gazette notification with approval of the Broadcasting Policy 2014, it has been received with mixed reactions. The Policy has emerged in the context of a growing electronic media that had called for a framework for operation.
“We urge the government to start the process of setting up of a truly independent commission by law that will be responsible for the functions of licensing of broadcast services, formulations guidelines and codes for programme and advertisement in consultation with relevant stakeholders, monitoring of standards and fairness and adjudication of complaints,” she said.