The technical provisions (section 5) allow some flexibility according to need but specifya coverage range of 17km radius and transmitter power up to 100W (exceptionally up to250W). Antenna tower should not exceed 32 metres but may also be exceptionallyexceeded to better cover sparsely populated areas. Antenna gain is limited to 6dB.Programme content restrictions (section 6) are widely drawn. In significant respects theseexceed the legitimate limits on freedom of speech recognised in international law andstandards and could limit the effectiveness of community radio in promoting goodgovernance. Of particular concern are a ban on “aspersions against the dignity of theState and Government” and on any content that “criticizes other countries” or that“criticizes... any individual in person or any group or segment of society in the country”.Section 7 sets out a number of additional provisions concerning programme contentobligations, ownership, management and accountability arrangements, station securityand sanctions. These include legitimate and welcome requirements to establish amanagement committee with community involvement, to promote equity and social justice, to provide training and capacity building for the community and to facilitate and promote community participation. This section also contains some provisions which limitthe independence of the community broadcaster and/or may have a chilling effect onfreedom of expression. Of particular concern are the role of a local advisory committeeconsisting of representatives of local authorities (District and Upazila
levels), the police,various central government departments and the state broadcaster; a requirement to carryPresidential and government speeches, special programmes of Government and the state broadcaster and speeches of local government officials; and a requirement to employ anarmed guard (“armed Anser”) whose “concerned police station shall submit a monthlyreport to the government stating if any anti-state broadcasting have been carried out”.There is also a prohibition on “political broadcasts” which may limit the effectiveness of the community radio in promoting free and fair elections by not giving equal airtime todifferent political parties, especially when government broadcasts must be carried.The monitoring arrangements are further set out in Section 8 in which the role of theAdvisory Committee is described as including to “monitor the community radio stationactivities in regular basis and submit a confidential report to the Ministry of Information per month”, to provide suggestions based on the strengths and weaknesses of thecommunity radio station broadcasting, to encourage the participation of Upazila levelgovernment officials in the community radio programmes and to provide counselling toimprove the quality of programmes. The radio station is also required, on a monthly basis, to submit to the local authority a copy on CD of all broadcast programmes.Despite the many concerns with the community radio policy, BNRC consider theimmediate priority is to move forward within this framework to establish some actualoperating community radio services. They anticipate that the policy can be improved later
Upazila is the term for sub-district, an administrative area with a population of around 300,000 and whichis generally anticipated to be the minimum typical coverage area for a community radio service.