WORLD ASSOCIATION OF NEWSPAPERS – WORLD PRESS TRENDS 2007
General economic situation
Although more than half of GDP is generated throughthe service sector, nearly two-thirds of Bangladeshis areemployed in the agriculture sector, with rice as thesingle-most-important product. Major impediments togrowth include frequent cyclones and floods, inefficientstate-owned enterprises, inadequate port facilities,a rapidly growing labor force that cannot be absorbed by agriculture, delays in exploiting energy resources(natural gas), insufficient power supplies, and slow implementation of economic reforms. Growth has beena steady 5-6% for the past several years. The inflationrate was estimated at 7.2% in 2006.
Performance of newspapers vs. other media
The main broadcasters - Radio Bangladesh andBangladesh Television (BTV) - are state-owned andfavourable to the government.TV dominates media usage, especially in the cities.There were six private satellite television stations inoperation. Two private radio stations began broadcasting a few hours a day on a trial basis. There were also twoforeign-based and -licensed satellite television stationsthat broadcast into the country and maintaineddomestic news operations.In addition to one official government-owned newsservice, there were two private news services, UnitedNews of Bangladesh, which is affiliated with AgenceFrance-Presse, and BD News.
Performance of different types of newspapers
State-wned newspapers were closed down in 1997, inline with the privatization policy. There were hundredsof daily and weekly independent publications.There is a strong tradition of owner-editorship.
Newspaper launches / closures
On July 22, Jatiya Party activists seized and destroyedcopies of the daily newspaper Prothom Alo after it rana story claiming that Jatiya Party leader and formerpresident H.M. Ershad had evaded taxes. According topress reports, Jatiya Party supporters barricaded a mainroad in Magura and stole over 11,000 copies of thepaper from a bus.
The government exerts indirect pressure and leverage onthe press through distribution of advertisements thatform a major part of newspapers revenue.In 2004, the Department of Films and Publications(DFP) presented to members of the parliamentcirculation statistics of the dailies and volume of advertisements allocated for them.The DFP said in its report that 388 daily newspapers were published and getting government advertisementsfrom the DFP. Of them, 164 were published fromDhaka and the rest from elsewhere, sources said quoting the report.In 2003-04 fiscal year, DFP allocated Tk214 millionadvertisements to the Dhaka-based dailies and Tk43million to 224 dailies published from outside the capital. According to the circulation figures mentioned in thereport, The Bangladesh Observer published 35,040copies, The Daily Star 28,115, New Age 19,100,Prothom Alo 223,465, Inqilab 150,000, Dinkal 60,000and Khabarpatra 39,810 copies.The members of the parliamentary body reviewing thereport observed the circulation figures and number of newspapers were not authentic and most of them werefake ones. Even Information Minister M Shamsul Islamechoed the members views.The DFP report also showed at least a hundred dailies with circulation between 6,000 and 7,000, theminimum circulation stipulated for newspapers to belisted with the DFP and get government ads.The report contained information about the circulationand advertisements allocated against 24 dailies butinformation about other newspapers was not shown indetails.
Most newspapers tend to exaggerate their circulationfigures to gain a share of government advertising andbigger allocation of newsprint.
With the increase in literacy rate to about 40% in 2005,the readership of newspaper was estimated at 20 million.
Online / Digital Publishing
There were no direct government restrictions on access tothe Internet. According to Reporters Without Borders,police often misused surveillance of journalists e-mail.
Printing & Distribution
Prices of imported newsprint increased by about 134 percent during the last three years (2004-2006) and reachedTk60,000 per ton. Prices of newsprint in Bangladesh were 20 per cent higher than the international marketprice. The cost of locally produced newsprint stands atUSD675 despite being inferior in quality.Bangladesh needs 8,000 to 9,000 tons of newsprintmonthly to meet the domestic demands. About 50 percent of the needed newsprint is produced locally and theremaining is imported.
Media Market Description