Vol. 5 Num 804 Wed. August 30, 2006  

One third of countrymen have no access to media
Media experts tell workshop

Diversification of mass media is widening up the information gap between the rich and the poor, said the media experts at a national workshop yesterday.

They said almost one third of countrymen especially in rural areas have no access to regular media.

The experts emphasised that the diversification of mass media should take place in a pro-poor way so that the majority of media dark or media poor people have greater access to a wider array of broadcasting channels.

They said despite diversification of satellite TV channels, a large portion of countrymen have no regular access to them as only 0.6 percent of rural households have cable connection.

On the other hand, Bangladesh Television (BTV) and Bangladesh Betar enjoying the state monopoly have reduced the interest of people in having media access, they added.

The national workshop titled 'Diversification of broadcasting media in Bangladesh: Development implications' was organised by Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) at its conference room in Gulshan in the city.

The media experts suggested establishment of a permanent and independent National Broadcasting Commission to regulate media and give autonomy to BTV and Bangladesh Betar so that they can broadcast people-oriented programmes.

They also urged the government to enact legislation for creating public service broadcasting, private commercial broadcasting and community broadcasting system.

Dr Golam Rahman, professor of mass communication and journalism department of Dhaka University, said print media is inaccessible to those who are illiterate or have low education level.

Besides, print media is often unavailable in rural areas while Internet remains primarily the preserve of the urban, wealthy and educated elite, he added.

Dr Rahman said only broadcasting media can cut literacy barriers for reaching information to poor and marginalised groups.

Shahab Enam Khan, lecturer in international relations department of Jahangirnagar University, said the recent growth of media has had very little impact on poor in rural areas.

"A total of 28.5 percent of all Bangladeshis have no access to regular media," he said terming this group as 'media dark' in his research.

Shahab who presented the keynote paper titled 'Media in development: Linkages between socio-economic development and diversified media in Bangladesh', pointed out that only 10 percent of all households and 0.6 percent of households in rural areas have a satellite or cable connection.

Speaking as chief guest Information Minister M Shamsul Islam said it is very important to establish National Broadcasting Commission and enact Broadcasting Act for the greater interest of the nation.

"Such initiatives should be implemented immediately in order to ensure many positive benefits of a diversified broadcasting media," he added.

Asafuddowlah, editor-in-chief of The Bangladesh Today, said, "Cameras should move in search of news, not for the ministers."

Awami League leader and former legislator Saber Hossain Chowdhury said five private TV channels have been allowed to broadcast considering the political interest of BNP-led four-party alliance government.

Ramendu Majumdar, a cultural personality, said community radio should be launched to reach information to marginalised poor people in rural areas.

BEI Chairman Farooq Sobhan moderated the workshop which was participated by Chairman of the Press Institute of Bangladesh Sadek Khan, Naser Rahman MP, Assistant Editor of The Daily Star Zafar Sobhan, Media personality Aly Zaker and Amader Samoy Editor Naimul Islam Khan.