Bangladesh enacts new broadcast law

Star Movie, Z Movie, HBO, Warner Brothers, Star Gold, AXN

Ministry of Information in Bangladesh has recently approved a new law for television channels in the country, which will obstruct all foreign movie channels such as Star Movie, Z Movie, HBO, Warner Brothers, Star Gold, AXN etc from being shown on Bangladeshi cable network, as the law strictly bans showing “any kiss scene” in any of the program contents. Totally ignoring the rights of the religious minorities, this new law stops all television channels in Bangladesh in broadcasting any “promotional” or “advertisement” on Christmas, Buddha Purnima [Buddhist Moonlight Night] and Puja [Hindu festival]. The law says “pre-approval should be taken from the Ministry of Information prior to broadcasting any publicity materials on Puja, Christmas, and Buddha Purnima etc.”

Imposing a strict censorship on the existing vibrant private television media in Bangladesh, the law contains several clauses, which only is seen in countries governed under dictatorial regimes. Below we are providing details on the law along with our explanations:

[1] Private television channels cannot run direct publicity in favor of any political party [publicity in favor of ruling party is allowed],

[2] Misleading information cannot be incorporated in any talk shows [it stops the participants of the talk shows from delivering any comment criticizing the ruling party or its activities],

[3] National ideology or characters cannot be criticized,

[4] The father of the nation [Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] cannot be criticized in any of the programs [any of his mistakes during his governance cannot be anymore mentioned in any of the programs],

[5] No individual can be criticized in the programs [this has been initiated as a number of ministers in the ruling government became subject of harsh criticism following their severe failures],

[6] No criticism will be allowed on national ideologies and goals [this law will stop the television channels from scrutinizing and criticizing any of the decisions or policies adopted by the ruling party],

[7] No defense and government information can be leaked in any of the programs on television channels [this was initiated because a number of private television channels are exposing many of the hidden actions as well as corruptions inside ministries],

[8] No program can be aired which would provoke deterioration of law and order situation [this law will stop broadcasting news and contents related to general strikes and demonstration programs of the political opponents of the ruling party. This law has been incorporated to stop the television channels from exposing corruption as well as brutality of the law enforcing agencies in the country. Especially the ruling party turned uncomfortable when the private television channels exposed the physical assault of an opposition member of the Parliament, who was mercilessly beaten by some police officers. It was disclosed by the private television channels that, those police officers were leaders of the student front of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League, during their student life. Television programs containing investigative reports on murder in custody of opposition leader and lawyer Moinuddin Ahmed [M U Ahmed] also caused anger in the minds of the ruling party leaders],

[9] No program can be broadcast against any friendly nation [this will stop Bangladeshi channels to broadcast programs criticizing Palestine, Iran and many other nations, with which Bangladesh maintains ‘friendly’ relations,

[10] Programs related to trafficking in women, forced prostitution, rape etc will be barred from broadcast under the new law. This law will also stop broadcasting investigative reports on such issues.

[11] Broadcasting ‘kiss scene’ shall be banned under the new law [this will stop all foreign television channels, especially the movie channels from being connected to Bangladeshi cable television network],

[12] No program or content on mutiny or demonstration can be broadcast on television channels [this will stop the private television channels from showing any of the contents related to massacre inside the Bangladesh Riffles Headquarters],

[13] Programs exposing the activities of criminals as well as their modus-operandi cannot be shown on any television channel,

[14] The private television channels shall be ‘bound’ to broadcast speeches of the Head of the State, Head of the government [Prime Minister], public announcements, press notes as well as any ‘program of national interest’. This law will compel the television channels in continuing to broadcast programs containing political agendas of the ruling party.

The law shall come into affect within next three months. Criticizing the new law, media personalities in Bangladesh say, this new law will close the door to freedom of expression and freedom of media. Such laws can only be passed in any dictatorial regime. By enacting such law, the current government in Bangladesh has clearly exposed its hidden anti-democracy face to the people.

Bangladesh freely allows more than 180 regional and international channels on country’s domestic cable network, which includes HBO, ESPN, NGC, Discovery, BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, NDTV, DW, Fox, VOA, France24, MGM, TVC, TNT, Cartoon Network, RAI etc. Currently there are several Bangladeshi channels, which are continuing broadcast mainly via Telstar-10 satellite, while some are also using other satellites. The Bangladeshi channels on satellite are: BTV-World, BTV-Sangshad, Channel-I, ATN-Bangla, ATN-News, Diganta TV, NTV, Boishakhi TV, Bangla Vision, RTV, ETV, DESH TV, Mohona TV, Independent TV, Maasranga TV, My TV, GTV, Channel 9, Shomoy TV, Bijoy TV etc.


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