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LINKAGES BETWEEN SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND DIVERSIFIED MEDIA IN BANGLADESH
MEDIA IN DEVELOPMENT LINKAGES BETWEEN SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND DIVERSIFIED MEDIA IN BANGLADESH
A Study On Broadcast Media in Bangladesh: Assessment of Needs and Priorities in Diversifying Broadcast Media
Conducted by BANGLADESH ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
Commissioned by KATALYST
Research Team Farooq Sobhan Shahab Enam Khan
The research team is greatly indebted to all the media personalities, media experts with experiences in public and private sectors, academics, senior civil society and private sector representatives who lent their time and knowledge to this report. In particular, we thank Mr. M. Shamsul Islam, Former Information Minister, Mr. Mahbubul Alam, Former Adviser to the Care Taker Government, Mr. M. Asafuddowlah, Chairman of the Asafuddowlah Commission, Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Former MP, Mr. Sadeq Khan, Chairman, PIB, Mr. Mahbubur Rahman, Director General, The National Institute of Mass Communication (NIMCO), Mr. Syed Kamaluddin, Eminent Journalist, Mr. Saiful Bari, Chief Advisor, ATN Bangla, Mr. Syed Badrul Ahsan, Executive Editor, The Dhaka Courier, Mr. Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury, Eminent Journalist, Mr. S. M. Shafiqul Amin Ferdousi, Former Director General, Bangladesh Betar, Ambassador Mr. Mostafa Faruque Mohammad and Mr. Elthem Kabir, Member of the Board of Governors, BEI for their candid feedback, opinion, and direction to us in preparing this research report. We also deeply appreciate the contributions of Mr. Manish Pandey, Deputy General Manager, Mr. Shahroz Jalil, Deputy Manager, Services Division, Mr. Sohel Manzur, Media Consultant, Mr. Mir Attaqui Masruruzzaman, Business Consultant, KATALYST, Mr. Avik Sanwar Rahman, and Mr. Hassan Khaleque, Research Director, BEI for providing their insights to improve this report. We, last but not the least, would like to acknowledge the assistance put in by Ms. Sherina Tabassum, Communications Manager, BEI, Mr. Towheedul Islam and Mr. Atique Rahman to produce this report.
“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his or her choice”
Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
In Bangladesh, where literacy rate is about 40 percent, the broadcast media offers the prospect of linking small, tertiary and informal business sectors with the mainstream communication networks, both national and international. The broadcast media also offers opportunities to contribute to the overall development of Bangladesh through dissemination of pertinent information. But the broadcast media industry in Bangladesh is still in the process of development. While the print media in Bangladesh is highly competitive, television and radio have been less so. It is being increasingly recognized, and as revealed by the examples of other developing countries that the primary constraint to the growth of a diverse and vibrant broadcast industry is lack of growth in broadcast media, and which is caused primarily due to a lack of a well thought-out national broadcast media policy that allows for growth and investment in the broadcasting sector. In a broader framework, lack of broadcast diversity stifles free flow of information giving rise to 'media divide' not only between rich and poor nations but also between rich and the poorest within societies of the latter. As a result, poorest and the marginalized groups are excluded from a potentially empowering source of critical information adversely affecting the development process. Under the above context, KATALYST*, commissioned Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) to prepare a research report on the relevance of a liberalized broadcast media to poverty reduction and overall development of Bangladesh. This publication is the outcome of the research that involved senior media professionals of print and broadcast media as well as personalities close to policymakers who later formed a Media Advocacy Group to carry on campaign for broadcast media liberalization. It is expected that the policy makers of Bangladesh will take this paper as an input to review the prevailing broadcast media scenario and the need for a cogent and transparent policy to g o v e r n a p o t e n t i a l l y v i b ra n t b ro a d c a s t m e d i a i n d u s t r y i n t h e c o u n t r y.
Table of contents
Executive Summary Research Methodology Introduction: In Search of Media Diversity in Bangladesh Broadcast Media at Crossroad: Constraints in the process of Media Diversity Media in Socio-Economic Context: Identifying the role of Broadcast Media in the Quest of Development The Media Debate: Issues in Diversification Process and Public Discourse Conclusion and Recommendations: Harnessing Potentials of Broadcast Media for Pro-Poor Development Annexes 35 31 06 09 11 15 19
*KATALYST* (www.katalystbd.com) is a project funded by DFID, SDC and SIDA and implemented by Swisscontact and GTZ-IS. The project is under Ministry of Commerce.
This research report has been produced as a part of the Project on 'Advocacy for Broadcast Media Diversification in Bangladesh' undertaken by Bangladesh Enterprise (BEI) in collaboration with KATALYST. This research report aims to map the existing media policy environment in Bangladesh and to evaluate the linkages between development processes and media liberalization. This report takes 'diversification' to mean advocacy for greater freedom in political and economic institutions. Diversification of broadcast media, in the same vein, calls for greater freedom from being restrained or bound by authority. The reduction of procedural rigidities would allow private initiatives to participate in the expansion of the media sector and contribute to economic and social development. In Bangladesh, the concept of freedom itself is a regulated one and the broadcast media is no exception. As a result, so far, no coherent policy framework has been implemented notwithstanding the fact that broadcast media liberalization has positively impacted development processes in neighbouring countries. The paper argues that 'deregulation' is distinct from 'no-regulation'. Deregulation of broadcast media in Bangladesh is the optimal path forward for economic development and capacity building of the State. The central hypothesis of this paper is greater access to a diverse range of media information channels among rural, poor & marginalised groups directly contributes to social and economic development. This could be facilitated through instituting a comprehensive policy environment for balanced growth of radio and terrestrial TV broadcasting.
Diversified media can affect politics and culture, supporting institutional change and market development. This research paper argues that successful development in Bangladesh, as seen in other regional countries like India, Nepal and Malaysia, should be characterized by the participation of more prevalent broadcast media. The development of a free and diversified media is of critical significance in making the transitions from bad governance to good governance and underdevelopment to sustainable development in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, it's been seen that facilitation of private broadcasting channels (including private terrestrial channels) would reach more socio-economic segments. As seen in the pyramid, terrestrial television and Radio have the capacity to reach more segments of the populace (including marginalized societies) than conventional forms of media like newspaper or advanced medium like the Internet. According to the Bangladesh Demographic and Media Survey conducted by ACNielsen, allmost one-third (28.5%) of all Bangladeshis have no access to regular media and are therefore 'media dark'. Only 10% of all households and 0.6% of rural households have a satellite or cable connection. This research has found that the Government's prerogative in facilitating a coherent regulatory framework should be to guide the development of the broadcasting industry in the best interests of Bangladesh's socio-economic development. There is a need for the regular exchange of views on existing policies and the regulatory framework between the government and relevant stakeholders regarding broadcast media. Research also suggests that greater autonomy of the broadcast sector would facilitate the growth of the private sector, which includes the vast number of small and medium enterprises that are increasingly becoming the primary economic actors in Bangladesh, and that of marginalized societies. Terrestrial access can be given to private TV and radio channels as this would maximize their coverage with lower cost. This access would simultaneously facilitate the access of the marginalized societies in Bangladesh to mainstream media. At present BTV and Bangladesh Betar have the monopoly in reach and influence viz. news and other contents that are aired. Thus the large number of the populace are deprived of the diversified sources of information, which is one of the keys to the overall development of our country......, The news divisions in Bangladesh Betar and BTV should be free of any undue influence and solely accountable to the public. Thus, in order to create a competitive environment for news and entertainment, more private initiatives in broadcast media should be encouraged. Finally, this research found that wider access to broadcast media has the potential to generate more resources and opportunities to improve livelihood of the poor. The research also indicates that a large majority of the population in Bangladesh only has access to the state TV station, BTV, and Bangladesh Betar. The majority lack choice of radio and TV channels and programmes and the monopoly situation, with little effective competition, results in holding back innovation and quality. This situation also reduces the perceived importance and value of media among consumers and therefore lowers the priority of purchasing radio and TV receiving equipment (Radios and TV sets). It is therefore the lack of choice, diversity and quality in Radio and terrestrial TV
General trends in reach of media in relation to the economic pyramid
1. For the purposes of the paper, deregulation refers reduction of government involvement in a particular media industry to create more competition within the industry. Deregulation is based on the premise that often, fewer regulations will lead to an increased level of competitiveness and therefore, higher productivity, more efficiency and lower prices overall. 2. The economic pyramid is a model for the social economic structure of developing countries where there are many more people at the bottom of the economic pyramid than at the top. This model differs from the economic diamond of many wealthier countries where there are greater numbers of middle-income earners and less rich and less poor.
that results from lack of diversified policy which is directly contributing to the low reach of media in Bangladesh. Lack of broadcast liberalization is therefore a critical constraint to media working effectively for the poorest in Bangladesh. Research suggests that there is a need for clear legislation, framed specifically to create and enable public service broadcasting, private commercial broadcasting and community broadcasting systems. Such legislation needs to include definitions of and distinctions between different types of media (national, regional, community, and local) as well as private and public broadcasters. A permanent independent commission to regulate broadcast media in Bangladesh is essential. It is important that any license to broadcast be issued only after due consideration of all legislation which may prove to be relevant to the broadcasting sector. Bangladesh may adopt various methods for licensing. It would be also imperative to enact the proposed Bangladesh Broadcasting Act 2003 and Private Broadcast Media (Radio and Television) Bill 2004. This report presents and analyzes a number of options regarding feasible licensing procedures for private TV and radio, including community radio. This paper has found that foreign investment facilitates the inception and development of private media. Granting access to foreign media firms provides yet another source of information to the populace and serves as an example for, and a check on, developing domestic media sources.
The objective of this research paper is to make an effort at discerning the linkage among broadcast media, private sector and social development for influencing Bangladesh broadcast media policymakers to diversify broadcast media. As a rational consequence, the paper suggests that efficient and easier accessibility to media channels by the rural, poor & marginalised groups would help Bangladesh in achieving its poverty reduction objectives, and socio-economic development. To prepare this report, field visits to India, Nepal and Malaysia were undertaken. In these countries diversified environment allowed private radio and television channels to positively impact on the development process. Knowledge gained on the impact of broadcast media liberalization on the development process, along with reviewing various literatures, provided the necessary tools to carry out the research. Equipped with such knowledge and insight, interviews with concerned stakeholders and inter-personal communications with policy makers, opinion leaders, media houses, owners, and business leaders, and by conducting focused group discussions, a comprehensive view of the media landscape since independence and beyond were obtained. In the process, constraints and bottlenecks hindering private broadcast media development were also identified. Such diagnosis led to the formulation of a set of policy recommendations for diversifying broadcast media in the country. A National Workshop was conducted on 29 August 2006 where the draft of this report was presented. In this Workshop, preliminary research findings were discussed and the feedback found in this workshop has been incorporated into this paper.
3. Stakeholders: government, private sector, SMEs, civil society, academia, media personalities, NGOs, and development organizations.
In Search of Media Diversity in Bangladesh
Diversification is advocacy for greater freedom in political and economic institutions. Diversification of broadcast media, in the same vein, thus calls for greater freedom from being restrained or bound by authority. Broadcast media in Bangladesh needs liberalization or freedom from restraints of a legal nature. The reduction of procedural rigidities would allow for private initiatives to participate in the expansion of the media sector and contribute to economic and social development. However, tangential freedom is either not seen or not accepted in any given social order. In the case of Bangladesh the concept of freedom is a regulated one and hence broadcast media liberalization will not be an exceptional case. Broadcast media liberalization in the country, however, appears to be subjected to often unnecessary procedural rigidities and extralegal formalities. In the context of Bangladesh, the importance and impact of the broadcast media has largely been ignored by the government and political actors. This has caused a massive 'media divide' and 'media darkness' in contemporary society. As a rational consequence, growth of the media market and accessibility to information by a large part of society has been hindered. In Bangladesh, the media divide is substantial. A media survey undertaken in Bangladesh in late 2004 highlighted that 28.5% of Bangladeshis did not have regular access to radio, TV, newspapers, magazines or cinema and were therefore effectively 'media dark'. In rural areas this figure rises to 35.9% while among women it is 36.3%. As table 1 highlights, the prevalence of those who are media dark rises significantly as household income reduces and almost half (46%) of the poorest households have no access to media.
4. Bangladesh Media and Demographic Survey, 2005, AC Nielsen.
'The struggle for achieving autonomy of TV and radio was set in motion during the Pakistan period. Soon after the independence people hoped that the autonomy of electronic media could be given by the government but it has not been achieved yet. The government has the natural tendency to control media. But, it is not possible, because even in the absence of terrestrial frequency allocated for private use, satellite TV channels would destroy the government control over media and information'. Mr. M. Asafuddowlah, Chairman of the Asafuddowlah Commission 1997, in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, on 29 August 2006
Table 1: Media access by household income in Bangladesh
Monthly household income Up to 3,000Tk 3001 to 7,000Tk 7,000 to 15,000Tk Over 15,000Tk No Media 45.9% 22.2% 6.2% 2.6 % Radio 18.6% 24.9% 25.8% 22.1% TV 45.6% 70.3% 89.6% 94.5% News-papers 6.9% 26.8% 56.2% 69.6% Internet 0% 0.6% 4.4% 8.7%
Source: Bangladesh Media and Demographic Survey, AC Nielsen, 2005
In Bangladesh, Radio and terrestrial television broadcasting are state monopolies and there is no broadcast law to allow for private investment in these industries. Cable television is proliferating in Bangladesh, albeit in the absence of a transparent policy framework, terrestrial TV has far greater reach particularly among the poorest households (see table 2). Table 2: Reach of Television in Bangladesh
Monthly household income Up to 3,000Tk 3001 to 7,000Tk 7,000 to 15,000Tk Over 15,000Tk BTV (Terrestrial) 45.3% 67.2% 78.8% 78.3% ATN Bangla (Cable) 1.6% 8.8% 27.0% 44.9% NTV (Cable) 1.2% 7.5% 25.7% 43.3% Channel I (Cable) 1.3% 8.0% 26.2% 41.5%
Therefore, diversification of broadcast media in Bangladesh is the path forward for development and capacity building of the State. Today, with higher literacy rates and cheap, new broadcast technologies (including the Internet), the broadcast media plays an ever more important role in informing traders, consumers, and investors. The vernacular media disseminate information and encourage commerce in geographically isolated markets. The media also provides information on political markets, exposing corrupt and unethical politicians and giving people a platform to voice diverse opinions on governance and reform. However, while mass media achieves significant breadth of reach, it does not reach everyone in Bangladesh due to a constrained or non-diversified broadcast media environment.
In Bangladesh, the media can inform otherwise poor and marginalized people, giving them voice as well. Radio broadcasts reaching poor areas where illiteracy is high are particularly effective in this. Because of the media's ability to provide information that is otherwise unavailable, it can be a powerful tool to supplement traditional school education.5 The media can also improve public health efforts, as demonstrated by successful AIDS education campaigns in Bangladesh. It has been witnessed through the activities of BRAC and Grameen Bank that women's access to the media or technology is associated with better health and family planning outcomes, even after accounting for differences in income and education. In Bangladesh, diversified broadcast media can affect politics and culture, supporting institutional change and market development. Open information flows can promote institutional reform by affecting people's incentives and by facilitating the sharing of ideas and knowledge. New information can change the way people think, creating demand for institutional change. Information on how other institutions work can stimulate public debate and facilitate collective action. Greater access to all media, including the foreign and the vernacular, can provide access to a diversified range of information sources for social groups to press for changes in institutions and norms of behavior. To achieve these outcomes-improving governance and supporting markets-the media needs to be independent, accountable, and able to provide relevant information and reflect diverse social views. However, concentrated ownership6 , restricted competition, financial dependence, and onerous regulations on press freedom distort the provision of information and can reduce independence. However, broadcast media also needs checks and balances. Competition in the media industry as well as limited but effective regulation will keep the media in check. The main factors that make the media effective in producing better social, economic, and political outcomes are, i. independence (including accountability)7, ii. quality, and iii. coverage. Competition among media firms, open access to public and private information and journalistic capacity are key elements affecting quality. Access to communications technologies and the removal of entry barriers all expand the media's reach. Complementary institutions can strengthen the role of the media. For example, while information provision can affect behavior through reputational penalties, it may not be sufficient to change outcomes. An effective judiciary and independent regulatory agencies can strengthen the media's effect on outcomes in Bangladesh.
5. Nicaraguan example shows that innovative radio program effectively contributed in teaching mathematics to primary school students with improved test scores. These programmes were designed especially for children in rural areas with less access to quality schools. 6. The case of ETV in Bangladesh or debate of obscurity in granting licenses for the FM radio channels or satellite television are classic examples for existence of concentrated ownership in Bangladesh. 7. It has been witnessed from different country studies that effective media are independent. Higher levels of perceived media freedom or independence are associated with lower levels of perceived corruption, regardless of differences in a country's level of income, and with better responses from public actors.
'The diversification of media will make advertisement cost-effective for new entrepreneurs and Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs), wider outreach for the private sector and wider choices for consumers'. Honorable Minister for Information Mr. M. Shamsul Islam in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, on 29 August 2006
Source: Bangladesh Media and Demographic Survey, AC Nielsen, 2005
The reach of cable TV is particularly poor in rural areas where terrestrial TV is accessed by 100 times more viewers than cable TV (see table 3). A large majority of the population in Bangladesh therefore only has access to the state TV station and state radio. The majority lack choice of radio and TV channels and programmes and the monopoly situation, with little effective competition, results in holding back innovation and quality. This situation also reduces the perceived importance and value of media among consumers and therefore lowers the priority of purchasing radio and TV receiving equipment (Radios and TV sets). It is therefore the lack of choice, diversity and quality in Radio and terrestrial TV that results from lack of diversified policy which is directly contributing to the low reach of media in Bangladesh. Lack of broadcast liberalization is therefore a critical constraint to media working effectively for the poorest in Bangladesh. Table 3 highlights the reduced reach of media among women and those who live in the rural areas of Bangladesh. These deficiencies in media reach are not compensated for through cinema. Only 7.1 % of people have been to a cinema hall and only 18.2% have watched mobile cinema (ACNielsen BMDS Survey 2005). Women have particularly low incidences of cinema viewing with only 2.4 % having visited a cinema hall and 9.7% having watched mobile cinema.
Table 3: Media reach in Bangladesh
Reach / usage All Rural Women Internet 1.2% 0.2% 0.4% News-papers 24.5% 15.9% 12.0% Cable TV 12.4% 1.5% 11.4% Terrestrial TV 64.2% 55.5% 58.5% Radio 22.5% 24.8% 15.7%
Source: Bangladesh Media and Demographic Survey, AC Nielsen, 2005.
Broadcast Media at Crossroad
Constraints in the process of Media Diversity
Broadcast media has played an important part in the process of both economic and cultural globalization. The media and communication industries are leading sectors in facilitating overall globalization. For this reason, policymakers and development analysts probing the impact of media on national economies and cultures have tended in the past decade to focus on the ownership, control and influence of the broadcast media. Today the media discourse focuses on how content is affected by infrastructure, corporate ownership and the convergence of technology. There is also a vibrant debate on how much and in what way the media affects behavior and consumer patterns in a rapidly growing Bangladesh. However, colonial regulatory framework and lack of transparent broadcast media policy generate systemic constraints to diversification of broadcast media in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, the broadcast media is likely to remain a principal source of credible and independent information for a long time to come. Today's media scenario in Bangladesh is affected by three major divides: i. the inequitable access to information; ii. the economic divide between haves and have-nots; and iii. the crucial matter of media freedom being prevented through legal and government policy frameworks. Historically, government and policymakers of Bangladesh have not been able to harness the potential benefits and inevitable role of liberalized radio and television in the development of its society, in particular as a means of helping to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. As a result, the idea of development and its linkage with broadcast media network has largely been ignored in the macro-economic discourse in Bangladesh. It is being increasingly recognized that the primary constraint to the growth of a diverse and vibrant broadcast industry is the lack of broadcast liberalization. Especially the lack of clear broadcast media law prohibits the growth and investment in broadcasting. In a broader framework, the lack of broadcast diversity stifles the free flow of information giving rise to a 'media divide', not only between rich and poor nations but also between the poorest and the most marginalized groups within the societies of the latter. As a result, the poorest and the marginalized are excluded from a potentially empowering source of critical information, adversely affecting the development process.
Bangladesh media has undergone several transitions in the last two decades. This is linked with both national policy development as well as the nature of growth of the business market. Given the interplay between the development of the media and the economic policies of successive governments, it is necessary to recognize the factors responsible for the possible comprehensive role of media in development and encourage them. A vibrant media sector is now emerging in Bangladesh and several new media outlets have come into existence. Emerging large-scale business houses are supporting the new ventures in the media sector for various reasons, including accessing media as a possible source of engaging with the government to gain economic advantages for the sector as well as the country. To date, Bangladesh has no comprehensive law to guide private radio and television channels and their programs. To date, the colonial acts and laws are used to issue license, allocate frequency and oversee technological aspects of radio and television channels8. However, with the restoration of parliamentary democracy in 1991 the issue of 'public broadcasting autonomy' gained momentum. Granting of autonomy of Bangladesh Radio (Bangladesh Betar) and Bangladesh Television (BTV) was one of the major demands of the three alliances announced after the fall of the autocratic regime of the-then President Hussain Md. Ershad. Not much progress has taken place since then.
Therefore, an enabling policy and an effective regulatory framework are crucial, both for broadcast media, and the beneficiaries of those, i.e., the people of Bangladesh. A liberalized and transparent regulatory framework, which ensures the development of a competitive media market, will facilitate the growth of a media environment that will enhance public access and lessen the 'media darkness' in Bangladesh. Effective regulation can be established by enacting the proposed Broadcast Act of 2003 and the Private Media Bill of 2004. An effective regulatory framework and a national strategy to the develop media market will facilitate Bangladesh's development aims and priorities. Such a framework can also force the private sector into providing lower priced services and encouraging different programmes and policies, bringing together a range of stakeholders from different sectors and areas.
Two separate policy guidelines were prepared in 1998 for private radio and television channels but the government later decided to formulate a comprehensive policy to encourage competition and ensure professionalism in the electronic media. Currently, Bangladesh has no law for private radio and television channels. The authorities use some acts including the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1885, the Telegraph Act, 1933 and Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Act, 2001, to allocate frequency and oversee technological aspects of the channels. The need for a unified guideline has become urgent as the Ministry of Information continues to receive applications for permission to run private radio and satellite television channels. The lack of clear government policy on satellite broadcasting has created problems for the sustainability of private broadcasters in Bangladesh. For example, the introduction of a terrestrial channel in the country under the governmental patronage in 1998 had posed a formidable challenge to BTV. The continued existence of BTV itself was brought into question when ETV started newscasts based on reporting from the very first day of its inception. Although the program pattern of ETV remained the same as BTV, its freedom to independent newscast, particularly its free access to opposition news and events which were not being covered by BTV due to government pressure, made it popular overnight. ETV used to enjoy the technical facilities of BTV to cover the distant places of the country as well as a large number of expatriate Bangladeshis through satellite. One may question the legality of ETV's inception, though no one can deny ETV's contributions towards the healthy growth of competition. Moreover, ETV's news-coverage and news-treatment demanded state-owned BTV's depoliticization to establish its credibility. The irregular inception of ETV and its usage of terrestrial frequency created the need for a coherent broadcast media policy.
'Any allocation of terrestrial frequency to private channels without following proper procedures would lead to confusion and controversy, which would hinder the growth of media industry in the country. To ensure fairness and justice in regulating the sector, there is no alternative to establishing clear legal framework and an independent broadcasting commission. ' Mr. Nasser Rahman, MP, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, held on 29 August 2006
8. Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1885, the Telegraph Act, 1933
Media in SocioEconomic Context
Identifying the role of Broadcast Media in the Quest of Development
The broadcast media are fundamental to development. It has enabled people to learn about issues and make their voices heard. Free, independent media are important to ensure freedom of speech (guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), promote democracy, good governance, peace and human rights, combat poverty and crime, inform people about issues and enable them to participate in public debate. Media is vital to ensuring that the public is involved in defining development strategies, and attaining widespread support for those strategies. In this decade, Bangladesh media has witnessed the following trends: 1. Proliferation of satellite television channels rather than radio in Bangladesh has increased radically in last few years. The impact of this growth is both immediate and long-term. The issue, however, has acquired much greater significance with the onset of satellite and foreign television channels. Table 4 suggests that there has been a massive urban growth of television in Bangladesh.
Table 4: Reach of Television in Bangladesh by location
Monthly household Income Urban Rural BTV (Terrestrial) 75.2% 55.3% ATN Bangla (Cable) 34.6% 0.6% NTV (Cable) 31.8% 0.4% Channel I (Cable) 32.4% 0.5%
Source: Bangladesh Media and Demographic Survey, AC Nielsen, 2005
There are continuing social demand to use the media to promote democracy, community dialogue, and social/economic development. Bangladeshi programmes mainly belong to two categories. The first category consists of the national service wherein the programmes include news, current affairs, social and cultural magazines, entertainment programmes, sports, etc. The second category is social service, which provides programmes dealing with development priorities (health, education among others), gender, religion, and social documentaries. Maximum number of development programmes in the area of health, agriculture, etc. is carried out during the offpeak timings.
There are both good and adverse impacts of the foreign channels. It is likely to bring in some undesirable elements. There is particular concern about sex, vulgarity and violence. But overall, it is believed that the increased variety, new knowledge, better production values and introduction to different cultures were some of the good points which outweighed the undesirable elements. Some types of Bangladeshi programmes are considered better while other types of foreign programmes are considered better. The Bangladeshi programmes that were thought to be superior are serials, feature films, drama, music and dance. The foreign programmes that are considered better are news, documentaries, sports and cartoons. The most important reason for liking foreign programmes is better production quality. It is of significance to note that when it came to culture specific programmes like plays and films, the Indian programmes are liked more. While clearly recognizing some adverse impact of foreign programmes, it is strongly felt that more competition in broadcast media would lead to better quality of Bangladeshi programmes. Free media and an active civil society are mutually reinforcing in Bangladesh. Media plays a vital role in reinforcing democracy and in turn relies on freedom from state control and censorship. Decades of restrictions are hard to overcome. State-run media and concentrated media ownership in Bangladesh still adulate those in power and allow little room for opposing views. As a result, privatized media faces lack of independence it is often run by wealthy individuals who tow the lines of political parties. Government still restricts media freedom by using selective and convoluted licensing procedure. Nevertheless, some form of regulation is necessary to avoid problems of (for example) libel, incitement to violence, and unethical journalism. The question of whether the TV or radio content in Bangladesh is mere waste or a relevant social and commercial service has become a debatable issue. There is little doubt that, there has been an enormous increase in the quantity of television programmes with the entry of foreign satellite networks. So far seven TV companies have started transmitting 24-hour channels. BTV has become a satellite channel and has increased programme hours, channels and variety to its programmes. The major thrust of the satellite channels today is entertainment. However, while there is more of entertainment today, it is often more of the same thing. At the same time space for niche channels and greater scope for news and current affairs programmes has emerged. The BTV faces competition from satellite channels in the urban areas where it is no longer the supplier's market. This can lead to catering to the 'lowest common denominator' factor but also for better programming. It is evident that more channels mean a big boost to local talent, market, business activity and also education and development. It also leads to more cross-cultural communication, global communication and trans-border communication with all the accompanying advantages and disadvantages. The competition not only ensures more content but also variety in this content. It also 'As a political party, we are in leads to better quality programmes, at least in terms of the favor of opening up media technical and production values. and we will like to continue to
work with BEI to open-up media.' Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Political Secretary to the Bangladesh Awami League in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, held on 29 August 2006
Information, Education, and Entertainment: Media has become useful in spreading messages of health, education, disaster, environment and entertainment. Particularly radio can have very high educational success rate. Terrestrial TV channel has become very effective tool for knowledge dissemination in the remote areas. Lack of access to information in remote and inaccessible regions can be tackled by the mainstream radio. Print media cannot be used due to prevalence of large-scale illiteracy and remoteness of such regions. Illustration 1 suggests that an ideal diversified media scenario is based on four interactive levels: Community9, local, regional, and national levels. Such diversity lacks in Bangladesh for which growth of broadcast media has become more urban-centric and national-based. As a result, access to media and scopes of participation of the marginalized people has become limited. To facilitate access of people it is required to promote adaptive institutional framework, including reforms in the regulatory sector that act as the backbone for media. These considerations should subsume political and economic transformation that allow for development in a holistic sense.
Individual in community Local level participation Access to regional level media Access to national level media
Illustration 1: Access to media in different levels
Considering all this, it can only be said that there is no need for taking policy makers to take an alarmist view. Bangladesh has to follow a liberal open sky policy with a regulatory mechanism in the form of the Private Media Bill 2004 or the Bangladesh Broadcasting Bill 2003. The proposal to create an autonomous body called National Broadcasting Authority is in the right direction for providing autonomy to the Bangladeshi channels and preparing it for competition from outside channels. Therefore, the major role of the diversified media could be identified as following:
Apparatus for Policy Changes through People's 'Voice': More regulated and centralized media expands less diversified and stifled flow of information. This raises the possibility of enhancing social and economic development. In the case of Bangladesh, as has already been mentioned, the development process is to be seen as a continuum in which both social development (e.g. basic needs, standard of living, quality of life, social justice, human rights, etc.) and economic development (e.g. private sector development, production, employment and income generation, etc.) must be in balance with one another. Broadcast media as a means of mass communication has the advantages of wide coverage, and in the case of radio affordability, portability, operation on batteries and low set up costs. Thus, terrestrial TV and radio provide access to information in remote and otherwise inaccessible regions. Print media is not effective in marginal communities with the prevalence of large-scale illiteracy, whereas television and radio have no such handicap. Diversified media environment, as seen in the illustration 1, would enable scopes for transmitting the voice of marginalized people to express their views on local development. It enables participatory decision making environment through healthy discussion on local issues. A diversified and competitive media market would encourage participatory community
21 9. The Milan Declaration on Communication and Human Rights of 24 August 1998 calls for international recognition of the community-broadcasting sector as an essential public service and an important contributor to media pluralism and freedom of expression and information. Finally, such radio stations provide a platform for locals to voice their concerns directly to local authorities. Thus, these radio stations can act as a two way medium as well. Not only are the locals provided pertinent information, but they are themselves able to get their voices heard by the appropriate decision makers.
development, harnessing locally available resources and innovation in local development. However, while the demand for printed media and TV is rising, radio remains as a promising medium in vast areas, which do not fall under the national electricity grid. 3. The Fourth Estate: There is no doubt that the media has enormous power in their hands and that there is good reason for calling them “the fourth estate”. One of the basic rationales of diversified broadcast media is freedom of expression. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Broadcasting media, as a means of public expression, is an exercise of freedom of expression. Freedom of airwaves is an intrinsic corollary of the freedom of expression. Therefore, one of the predominant role of broadcast media is to speed up the process of informing the public and therefore to act as a catalyst for change. Therefore, broadcast media could be considered as a two-way platform where state-actors and the individual can inter-act closely. It serves as a watchdog on civic authorities/ power holders, providing a forum for active relationship between leaders and citizens. National Development Objectives: It is well-recognized that free and independent media works as an essential factor for socio-economic development. The broadcast media works as a tool for transmitting the issues of development and 'public choice'. The role of media in developing market institutions and governance mechanism that facilitate economic progress has begun to receive the attention it deserves in the neighboring countries of Bangladesh. The media is a key institutional mechanism for achieving a successful policy mix that promotes economic development. Diversified media will serve to strengthen existing institutions or lead to further development. An effective media lowers the cost of information to the public and provides a mechanism to overcome the asymmetry of information between the public and government. Thus, an effective media increases transparency, accountability, and informs public on the development progress in the country. As long as media sources are privately owned, and do not depend on the government for any form of support, the media cannot escape the influence of consumers. As a result, a media regulatory framework that provides enough autonomy, legal security, a favorable economic environment and consumer demand to the media outlets, plays a positive role in the development process.
The Media Debate
Issues in Diversification Process and Public Discourse
In Bangladesh, where the literacy rate is about 40%, the broadcast media offers the prospect of linking people all over the country, particularly in the rural areas to information pertaining to health, education and various other opportunities. It also offer small, tertiary and informal agriculture and business sectors with mainstream communication networks, both national and international, thus facilitating greater access to information on production processes, market prices and opportunities, and a platform to voice their needs and communicate with the policy makers among others. However, the broadcast media industry in Bangladesh is still nascent. While print media in Bangladesh is highly competitive, television and radio have been less so. Government owned BTV has a terrestrial presence, hence the largest penetration and share of urban and rural Bangladesh while private channels have their presence mostly confined to urban or sub-urban areas. Likewise, Bangladesh Betar, the state owned radio station, has the largest share of the urban and rural Bangladesh while Radio Metrowave (which is no longer in operation) had limited reach, within Dhaka city only. Bangladesh currently has two types of media platforms: 1. State-owned media: The state controls and reserves the rights for terrestrial frequency. Bangladesh Television is the only state-owned television channel which covers 99% of the total territory. BTV has the broadest outreach in terms of distribution networks and benefits extensively through state advertising. The state also controls the only radio station Bangladesh Betar. Privately-owned media: Although radio and television were a government monopoly up to the mid-1990s several privately owned satellite television and radio stations have been granted permission to operate, albeit under a murky licensing process. The private sector owns seven satellite TV stations, and recently licenses have been given to eight radio channels. The transmission capacity and reach of the private stations remain far more limited than those of the state-owned broadcast media. Thus, state owned broadcast media, both radio and television, continue to have the widest reach (approximately 99% of the country).
Today, the media discourse focuses on how content is affected by infrastructure, corporate ownership and the convergence of technology. There is also a vibrant debate on how much and in what way the media affects behavior and consumer patterns in a rapidly growing Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, the broadcast media is likely to remain a principle source of credible and independent information for a long time to come. Today's media scenario in Bangladesh is affected by three major divides: i. the inequitable access to information; ii. the economic divide between haves and have-nots; and iii. the crucial matter of media freedom being prevented through legal and government policy frameworks or lack thereof. Historically, government and policymakers of Bangladesh have not been able to harness the potential benefits and inevitable role of liberalized radio and television in the development of its society, in particular as a means of helping to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. As a result, the idea of development and its linkage with broadcast media network has largely been ignored in the macro-economic discourse in Bangladesh. Terrestrial Frequency for private use: Major debate on media landscape begins with terrestrial issue. Opening up of Terrestrial frequency for the private television and radio is an important factor in facilitating the growth of broadcast media in terms of geographical coverage and ensuring public participation in national development agenda. Modern times demand the opening up of terrestrial frequency for private usage. Through using terrestrial frequencies, TV and Radio broadcasting would become cheaper and could cover the maximum geographical area of Bangladesh. On one hand, selling of excess frequency would generate revenue for the government, and on the other, it would maximize the utility of idle frequency. Table 5 highlights that the process of diversification of broadcast media and the media regulatory framework in India, Nepal and Malaysia are more relaxed comparing to Bangladesh:
'In 2001, BTV was watched by only 2.03% of population while ETV by 18.22%. Within six weeks of its inauguration, the audiences of ETV increased to 22.05% while that of BTV declined by 1.72%. This radical change was made possible due to the quality of programme and neutrality of news presentation by ETV.' Mr. Ramendu Majumder in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, on 29 August 2006
India Regulatory Framework
+ 1885 Indian
Nepal National Broadcasting Act
Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Act 1999
Telegraph Act and 1933 Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act. (with Possession Rules) private radio and television channels
Telegraphy Act 1885, Telegraph Act 1933, BTRC Act 2001 private radio and television channels
+ no law for
+ no law for
Public, private, commercial, educational institutes, communities, individuals Foreign shareholder exists 30% of total population
Public, private, commercial, communities Foreign shareholder exists
Public, private, commercial, individual, educational institutes, communities Foreign shareholder exists Peninsular Malaysia & East of Malaysia Not given to the private sector
Radio Coverage by FM radio
65% of total population
No verifiable data exists
Under consideration of the Government of India 20,000 crore Indian Rupees (approx) Strong competition
Not given to the private sector
No coherent policy as ETV case shows
Nepalese Rupees 300 Crore (approx). Limited competition
Jan '06- April '06 RM1,371,670,918
Limited competition governs market
+ Main legislation
Limited competition exists in satellite tv No coherent policy objective
Table5: Bangladesh in comparison with India, Nepal and Malaysia (2004-2005)
India Private Radio Private TV Licensing Authority 262 150 Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in Consultation with Tele Regulatory Authority of India Nepal 56 5 Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Malaysia 17 7 Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Bangladesh 3 7 Ministry of Information with frequency control and allocation from Bangladesh Tele Regulatory Commission Annual license fees as fixed by the government
+ Main legislation is
+ Main legislation is
+ Flexible policy + To ensure that law
+ Flexible policy + Right to
does not restrict positive developments in market and consumer rights information
is generic with specific issues addressed in regulations but subject to regular review
+ Flexible policy
+ Right to
Annual fees on the basis of transmitter capacity
Application fee for license
Provisions are made for regulatory forbearance to ensure that law does not restrict positive developments that may be technically in breach
India Content Regulation
+ Access to
+ Cultural diversity
+ Access to
+ Access to
content less easily controlled domination/diver sity exist exist
+ Public service
content less easily controlled content by censorship
content is controlled content by censorship exist
+ Regulation of
+ Regulation of
+ Self regulation
domination/diver sity exist broadcasting exist
+ Cultural diversity + Public service
+ Public service + Self regulation
National Regulatory Mechanism: De-centralized regulatory mechanism has become an important issue in the media discourse. Necessity to establish an independent National Broadcasting Commission has been felt for long time. However, despite several initiatives taken by the governments, NBC has not become functional in Bangladesh. NBC could be commissioned to enable an efficient, transparent and accountable media regulatory mechanism. The prime task of this commission should be to issue licenses to private broadcasting initiatives through fair procedures. Following illustration provides an ideal scenario of an effective regulatory mechanism:
'It is important to establish National Broadcast Commission and enact Broadcasting Act for the greater interest of the nation.' Honorable Minister for Information Mr. M. Shamsul Islam in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, on 29 August 2006 'To develop a free and competitive media sector, it is imperative to establish an independent broadcasting commission'. Mr. Aly Zaker in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, on 29 August 2006
+ Policy or no-
policy debate is going on in Indian media discourse
+ New media
policy in stead of February 01, 2005 amendments
+ Migration from
old licensing to new licensing regime
and its impact on private sector and socioeconomic development National Broadcasting Commission Ministry of Information National Broadcasting Authority Regulation of Broadcasting
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission
+ Less regulation + Clear licensing
+ Clear licensing
+ Less regulation + Clear licensing
+ Highly regulated + No clear
procedure and public-private partnership exist government policy is appreciated by all the stakeholders in the society interest
developmentbased approaches exists change
procedure and public-private partnership exist policy exists interest
licensing procedure partnership exist driven policy exists policy exist
+ Market-driven + Consumer + Rapid change
+ No public-private + No market-
Self-regulatory authority comprised of various stakeholders
+ No transparent
+ Consumer + Rapid change
Illustration 2: Effective media regulatory mechanism
A Transparent and logically coherent licensing regime is essential: It is important that any license to broadcast give consideration to any, and all relevant legislation that must be strictly adhered to by the broadcaster. This consideration should take into account the impact on the economic viability and sustainability of the media industry; with the outcome being that viability of the industry is not suppressed by a regulatory regime. There should be provisions for community radio a cost effective medium to actualizing the development goals of Bangladesh and establishing the fundamental right to communication for all people.
'Independent Broadcast Commission should be consisted of representatives from public sector, private sector, civil society, academic, media experts and so on. The prime task of this commission should be to issue licenses to private broadcasting initiatives through fair procedures.' Mr. Saiful Bari, Chief Advisor, ATN Bangla, in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, on 29 August 2006
Ownership as a promise or peril: Currently there are circumstantial evidences that the ownership and control of the media are in the hands of a few who are closely aligned to the government and who wish to profit from the situation. This certainly restricts the expansion of a sustainable media industry in the long-term. In short-term, this gives a space for mushroom-growth of media houses but without ensuring the environment for free, fair and healthy competition.
'There are three kinds of censorships existing in Bangladesh: state, public and self censorship. The government and media houses have frequently been using censorship to establish their control over information. Politically and financially powerful people both within the government and media are using their power to generate information in their favour.' Prof. Imtiaz Ahmed, University of Dhaka, in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, held on 29 August 2006
Liberalize all aspects of the media industry: Media companies, whether radio or TV, - as well as any complementary industries must be completely liberalized in order to be effective. The high magnitude of government control will compromise the credibility of the media and provide potential for political influence of coverage. The current trend in the Bangladeshi media market reflects that the advertisers spend more money to cover a smaller segment people (who have higher purchasing capacity). Generally, more advertisement spending goes to Television than any other media. Radio would reduce the advertisement spending for advertisers as it would target the larger portion of the populace (who has both higher and lower purchasing capacity).
Foreign investment in broadcast media: A problem lies in the issue of program contents and objective of the foreign firms. It is highly debated whether foreign investment would distract local entrepreneurship or not. Debate also focuses on the issue of profit sharing, protection of cultural, and cross-media ownership. It is of no doubt that to grow a competitive media market and promote efficient market infrastructure some need for foreign investment exists in Bangladesh. This may help private media resources to be developed. In addition to investment, developing media firms will benefit from outside advice from successful media firms in other countries. Moreover, granting access to foreign media firms provided yet another source of information to the populace and serves as an example for and a check on, developing local media resources. Policies to encourage foreign investment are one way to facilitate technological transfer and thus narrow the 'digital divide'. Consumer demand is critical: Though the media has substantially expanded in Bangladesh, a lack of consumer demand will render it largely ineffective as a mechanism for coordination around norms and policies that lead to economic development. When the populace demands 'good' policies from politicians, a free media can serve as a source of transparency and an ultimate check on the progress in meeting the demands. In this regard, allowing for diverse coverage of topics and sources both domestic and foreign that can introduce consumers to new perspectives and provide them with the information they demand - is key. Critical linkage between national interest and expansion of broadcast media: The Government's mission in allocating broadcast licenses would be to develop the broadcasting industry in the best interests of Bangladesh. In doing so, the objectives should be to:
'Radio Today has been increasingly getting popularity among the urban people. This trend goes against the conventional presumption that urban people are no more interested with radio. Due to a decrease in quality of radio programme aired by Bangladesh Betar, radio listenership has declined in rural areas.' Mr. Rafiqul Haque, Managing Director, Radio Today, in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, held on 29 August 2006
Prioritizing the economic growth: The role of media in economic development is significant. Media can facilitate greater trade and enhance economic activities by informing farmers and businesses about various market opportunities, imparting valuable knowledge regarding production, and providing a platform for communication between the farmers and businesses and the policy makers. As is the case the world over, Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly becoming the primary economic10 actors, an engine of growth, in the Bangladeshi economy. Easier access to broadcast media for them remains a constraint. Cheaper and effective access for the SMEs could be facilitated if diversified media mechanism exists in Bangladesh. Radio and terrestrial TV remain a feasible and convenient tool for enhancing their markets. Needs and demands of the SMEs underpinning the economic growth of the country should be considered in national broadcast policies and initiatives. Electoral Promises by the Political Parties: In November 1990, three major political parties announced a 'Joint Declaration' to consolidate the movement against autocracy. Section 2(d) of the joint declaration states that 'the mass media, including the radio and television, will have to be made into independent and autonomous bodies so that they become completely neutral'. It is indeed a matter of regret that the first democratic government formed by BNP in 1991, did not act upon the section 2(d) of the joint declaration11. However, BNP did form a committee to assess the possibility of autonomy of radio and television. This committee prepared a set of recommendations for the autonomy of radio and television which was neither publicly produced nor were any efforts made to materialize the recommendations12. During Awami regime, another commission the Asafuddoula Commission was formed in 1996 to assess giving autonomy to national radio and television. The activities of the Commission could be regarded as the opening platform for the liberalization process for radio and television in Bangladesh. Till date, neither Bangladesh TV nor Bangladesh Betar became independent from governmental control.
'The demand for diversifying media is not only a bipartisan issue rather it is a national issue because the role of media is immense for overall economic development in the country.' Mr. Farooq Sobhan, President, BEI, in the National Workshop on Diversification of Broadcasting Media in Bangladesh, held on 29 August 2006
+ + +
Plan the use of parts of the radio frequency spectrum in a way that provides for the long-term development of and access to a diverse range of broadcasting services and facilitates the adoption of appropriate technologies; Ensure the licensing of new and emerging broadcasting services within their appropriate categories of services; Ensure diversity of broadcasting services and control of the more influential services rests with local Bangladeshi residents; Encourage programming content that reflects the diversity of community values, interests and cultures and fosters Bangladeshi identity and character.
10. The National Private-Sector Survey of Enterprises in Bangladesh, 2003 shows that there are approximately six million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which include enterprises with up to 100 workers. Over 30 million people are employed in MSMEs or 40 percent of the population 15 years or older. MSMEs contribute anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of GDP in Bangladesh. 11. The-then information minister publicly denounced the idea of 'autonomy of state-run-media' and claimed the government's right to enjoy 'subjective coverage' as it was voted to power. 12.Meanwhile, the Left Democratic Front in the fifth parliament initiated a Bill seeking the autonomy of broadcast media. The Bill proposed that the authority of the parliamentary committee on Ministry of Information should be strengthened to conduct the affairs of Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh TV. This Bill was not passed in the parliament.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Harnessing Potentials of Broadcast Media for Pro-Poor Development
Development of a free and diversified media is critical for ensuring greater access to a diverse range of information among rural, poor and marginalized groups thereby contributing to the overall socioeconomic growth of the country as depicted in Illustration 3, which synthesizes the linkage between media diversification and socio-economic development in Bangladesh13. To facilitate the media diversification process in Bangladesh, one must look into the components of the institutional and policy framework that exist in Bangladesh. Components of the institutional framework include the policy-making bodies that design regulations, laws, and regimes' intervention efforts. Such institutional framework will lead to diversification of media in Bangladesh.
Diversification of Broadcast media
Comprehensive policy framework and greater investment in Broadcasting
Growth of radio and terrestrial TV broadcasting stations and programmes
Greater access to a diverse range of media information channels among rural, poor & marginalized groups
Contribution to social and economic development
Illustration 3: Impact of Diversified Broadcast Media
13. Comments from Gavin Anderson, Media Specialist based in UK
Given that the satellite television market has expanded substantially in Bangladesh without transparency in the licensing process, and the need to liberalize the broadcast media for reasons articulated in this paper, it is imperative that the Government of Bangladesh swiftly moves to adopt a coherent broadcast media policy framework. Following are key guidelines for the achievement of a sustainable broadcast media market: 1. National Broadcasting Commission: A permanent commission to regulate broadcast media in Bangladesh is essential. A 'National Broadcasting Commission' (NBC) is necessary for the purposes of providing avenues for healthy growth of media market. NBC will effectively supervise the management of private radio and television and guide the national broadcast media. NBC should be an independent body free from the sole state-control. It should comprise representatives from the key stakeholders: civil society, media, private sector, academics, and limited government representatives14. NBC could supervise and evaluate the functions of private television and radio networks to ensure that they are adhering to the National Broadcasting Regulations. This may serve as a regulatory body to:
+ + + + + + + +
Terrestrial Frequency for private use: Modern times demand the opening up of terrestrial frequency for private usage. Through using terrestrial frequencies, TV and Radio broadcasting would become cheaper and could cover the maximum geographical area of Bangladesh. This would ensure wider access and greater scopes for public participation in the media. On one hand, selling of excess frequency would generate revenue for the government, and on the other, it would maximize the utility of idle frequency. Autonomy of Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar: BTV and Bangladesh Betar are now in the age of competition. It is essential to modernize and extend the existing physical infrastructure of both BTV and Betar. The news divisions in Bangladesh Betar and BTV should be free of any undue influence and solely accountable to the public. In order to create a competitive environment for news and entertainment, greater autonomy of BTV and Bangladesh Betar has become an issue of critical importance. Autonomy will facilitate a competitive environment for advertisers, credibility and effectiveness of the public broadcasting in Bangladesh, and the reflection of societal demands. Neutrality must be the cornerstone of programs aired on BTV and Bangladesh Betar.
Grant licenses to private channels; determine license fee structure for Radio and TV channels (see Annex II); Administer the implementation of broadcasting Act, laws and regulatory issues; Formulate and implement rules and regulations for advertisement, block-time and program sponsorship; Accept and arbitrate complaints of violation of the Rules for News & Program broadcasting and also of individual rights; Ensure objectivity, factuality and neutrality of news; Ensure public-private regular joint consultation on the issues of media policy; Approve contracts and establish foreign contacts to undertake technical & technological development and enable exchange of programs; Supervise and implement regulations formulated for transmitting authentic information and maintaining objectivity in order to promote the image of BTV and Bangladesh Betar as public service establishments; Develop / build necessary physical infrastructure to ensure technical standards of programs.
Enact specific and clear legislation: The existence of laws that allow government officials to delay the availability of information stymies the ability of the information market to develop and function. Therefore, clear and coherent legislation should be enacted at the earliest possible time. Legislation should create and enable public service broadcasting, private commercial broadcasting, and community broadcasting systems, with clear definitions and distinctions between each type of broadcaster. Legislation should provide for an autonomous body to guide and manage the public service broadcasting in radio and TV networks in Bangladesh. This could be done by enacting the Proposed Bangladesh Broadcasting Act 2003 and enacting Private Broadcast Media (Radio and Television) Bill 2004 (see Annex I).
14. There should be a regular exchange of views on the existing policies and regulatory framework between the government and relevant stakeholders. Joint consultation on broadcasting issues would facilitate growth of a vibrant media sector based on the public opinion and demands.
Bangladesh Broadcasting Act 2003 (Licensing)
CHAPTER V LICENSING
20. Broadcast License Requirement (1) It is prohibited to provide a broadcasting service except in accordance with a valid broadcasting license. (2) The Authority shall have exclusive responsibility in relation to issuing and renewing licenses. (3) The Authority shall maintain a register of licenses, which shall be available for public inspection. 21. Existing broadcasting services (1) The existing public broadcasters, Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television, shall be guaranteed broadcasting service licenses. (2) Bodies currently providing broadcasting services which have been approved by the Ministry of Information and/or the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Authority shall be required to apply for a broadcasting service license within three (3) months of the establishment of the Authority, provided that there shall be a presumption that they shall be provided with such a license absent overriding countervailing reasons in the public interest. 22. New Licenses (1) From time to time, the Authority shall determine whether it is in the public interest, based on the Broadcasting Frequency Plan, broadcasting policy, interest by potential broadcasters and market capacity, to hold a competition with a view to issuing additional licenses to provide a broadcasting service. (2) Where it is proposed to issue additional licenses, the Authority shall publish widely a notice to that effect. The notice shall include all relevant information about the proposed licenses, including the deadline for receipt of applications, any application fee and the annual license concession fee. (3) The Authority shall adopt in advance regulations setting out the process to be followed in submitting an application and a description of what information must be provided, as well as a schedule of the annual license concession fees, established in accordance with section 29. (4) The Authority may, in the absence of a call for licenses, also receive applications to provide a broadcasting service for which there does not appear to be serious competition. (4) Applicants for a broadcasting service license shall be required to provide detailed financial, technical and, where relevant, proposed customer or subscriber information, as well as a Programme Schedule. (6) Upon the grant by the Authority of an application under sub-section (2), it shall cause notification of that decision to be published in the Gazette.
CHAPTER VI LICENSE CONDITIONS
25. License Renewals (1) An application for the renewal of a license shall be made within the last three months before the date of expiry of the existing license. (2) A licensee shall be entitled to have a broadcasting service license renewed, provided that the Authority may refuse to renew a license where the licensee has operated in significant breach of its license conditions or where this is clearly in the public interest, based on the goals set out in sub-section 5(3). (3) At the time of renewal, either a licensee or the Authority may propose amendments to the license conditions and the Authority may accept or reject these amendments, provided that any amendments imposed by the Authority must be consistent with section 31. (4) The Authority may, when considering an application for the renewal of a license, require such new or additional information as it may deem necessary. (5) If at the date of expiry of a license the Authority has not yet reached a decision in respect of an application to renew it, the license shall continue to be of effect until the application for its renewal is granted or refused by the Authority. (6) A license renewal shall be for the same period as the original license. (7) The Authority shall provide a licensee with written reasons, in advance of a final decision, of any proposed decision not to renew a license and shall give the licensee an opportunity to make oral and/or written representations. (8) Where the Authority does not renew a license, it shall provide written reasons for its decision.
26. License Conditions (1) A license shall stipulate any frequency or frequencies to be used by the broadcaster. (2) Licenses shall be for a period of five (5) years for a radio and ten (10) years for a television broadcasting service. (3) Compliance with the Advertising and Programme Codes, and all matters specified in the license application, including the Programme Schedule, are deemed to be license conditions. (4) Licenses are not transferable to any other person without the prior approval of the Authority. (5) Broadcasters may only broadcast programmes which they produced or for which they hold broadcasting rights and copyright must be clearly indicated as part of the credits displayed with each programme. (6) The name of the producer of every programme shall be displayed at the end of the programme. (7) Terrestrial and satellite broadcasters are required to keep a master recording of all programmes broadcast for at least twenty-eight (28) days after they have been broadcast provided that where specific broadcast material is the subject of a dispute, the relevant broadcaster shall, at the request of the Authority, keep a master recording of that broadcast material until the matter has been resolved fully. (8) Cable broadcasters are required to keep a register of the programme channels and advertisements distributed for at least twenty-eight (28) days after they have been distributed, provided that where specific broadcast material is the subject of a dispute, the relevant broadcaster shall, at the request of the Authority, keep a record of it until the matter has been resolved fully. (9) If six (6) months expire after the granting or renewal of a license*before any broadcasting service is provided, that license shall lapse. (10) Licensed cable broadcasters shall include, without any deletion or alteration, within the top ten (10) prime band channels of their basic service, Bangladesh Television and at least two other locally licensed terrestrial or satellite television channels, provided; (11) Licensees are required to report annually to the Authority on their activities, including the observance of license conditions. 27. General Terms and Conditions (1) The Authority may, from time to time, by notification published in the Gazette, adopt regulations setting out general license terms and conditions either of general application for all licensees or for different types of licensees (such as terrestrial, satellite or cable). (2) Such terms and conditions may, among other things, set maximum tariffs to be charged by cable broadcasters.
II a. Methods of transparent licensing regime as practiced in different countries:
28. Specific License Conditions (1) The Authority may attach such reasonable conditions, including in relation to technical matters, to a broadcasting service license as it deems necessary to promote the goals set out in sub-section 5(3). (2) Such conditions may, in particular, relate to:a. the power limitations in respect of a station, the technical servicing and inspection of a station and any other technical specifications; b. the prevention of electric and other disturbances or radio reception of the transmission over any telegraph line; c. the location of a transmitter station and, where applicable, and the specific geographical area to which broadcasts may be made. 29. License Fees (1) The Authority shall, from time to time as it deems necessary, in consultation with interested parties and taking into account market considerations, produce a schedule of the applicable annual license concession fees, setting out the rates for various types of broadcasting licenses (classified by tier - public, private or community - type - radio or television, terrestrial, satellite or cable - and scope - national, regional or local, or number of subscribers). (2) This schedule shall come into force after it has been placed before the Jatiya Sangsad for 30 days and published by notification in the Gazette. (3) Licensees shall be required to pay to the Authority the applicable annual license concession fee, in accordance with the schedule currently in force. 30. License Condition Amendments (1) Broadcasters may propose amendments to their licenses to the Authority, which may approve or refuse such amendments, provided that if the Authority fails to respond to a proposal within 30 working days after receiving it, the Authority shall be deemed to have accepted it. (2) The Authority may, in respect of any particular broadcasting service license, and after giving the license holder an opportunity to make written representations, amend of its own motion any of the prescribed conditions, including adding further conditions:a. if the Authority is of the opinion that this is in the interest of orderly spectrum management; or b. in order to give effect to any international treaty governing broadcasting matters to which Bangladesh is a party. 31. General Restriction on Specific License Conditions No license conditions shall imposed under sections 27, 28 or 30 unless they:a. are relevant to broadcasting; b. further the goals set out in sub-section 5(3); and c. are reasonable and realistic, given the licensee.
16. All the licenses granted in 2005 in Bangladesh was on the basis of tender process.
Bangladesh may adopt various methods for transparent licensing regime, such as: a) Auction: The open auction process provides for a simple method for Government to allocate private radio licenses. The auction process is a high-risk system as it provides for no qualification of the applicant and hence no guarantee that the license will be utilized as desired. Invitation to Apply: The Application process is also simple and has the added benefit of prequalifying applicants. Effectively applicants are scrutinized against financial and technical criteria with their application only being considered after they have successfully fulfilled the criteria. The tender process ensures that the successful applicant is capable and motivated to operate a private radio station. License Fees: Fixed license fees place tremendous pressure on the profitability of start up radio stations. For this reason it is recommended that license fees be based on a percentage of net revenue shares. Duration of License: License duration is critical in attracting suitable investors, as is the license renewal process. Internationally an initial period of 10 years is the accepted norm with automatic renewal of the license, for a further 10 years period, subject to there having been no breaches of the license by the licensee. It is recommended that such 10 year license periods be adopted. Multiple Licenses: The trend internationally is towards abolition of restrictions on multiple licenses and towards a free market approach. New Zealand provides the best example of this policy and can demonstrate a vibrant and flourishing radio industry. As audience size is a critical factor in the attractiveness of any advertising medium any restriction on a licensee's ability to build a critical mass audience will be detrimental to the licensee's viability. It is recommended that no restriction be placed on the number of radio stations owned and operated by a licensee.
II b. International experiences on process of granting license
Countries Argentina Australia Canada India Malaysia Philippines Singapore South Africa UK USA Categories In case applications for stations with power over one kilowatt exceed spectrum available, licenses are auctioned Licenses are auctioned In case applications exceed spectrum available, licenses are auctioned. The licensee fee otherwise depends revenue earned. In certain cases it may be nil Licenses are auctioned No auction. There is shortage of spectrum and the government is not granting any licenses for radio broadcasting currently In case applications exceed spectrum available, licenses are auctioned MDA may designate an entity as a Lead Broadcaster. It may also conduct open tender to grant license Licenses are auctioned National Service and FM (ASL) licenses are auctioned In case applications exceed spectrum available, licenses are auctioned
II c. International practices for granting licenses for Community Radio
The entities that are not eligible for License
The entities that are eligible for License
Duly incorporated associations or companies that represent a community interest A registered non-profit community group
A business house An individual
An organized community having legal personality Their social objective must be the promotion of mass communication as an instrument of development & community participation They must be domiciled in the municipality in which the station is set up Corporations of Ghanaian citizens Associations registered in Ghana Any legal entity should be eligible for grant of a Community Radio License Persons of Polish nationality who reside permanently in Poland Legal persons permanently domiciled in Poland (Shares held by foreign investors in the capital of Broadcasting Companies is limited to 33%)
+ + +
Political parties Religious organizations Religious bodies Publicly funded bodies Banned organizations
+ + +
Any party, movement, organization or alliance of a political nature
Legal entities Individuals who are nationals of a member state of European Union or nationals of other states if so provided in international agreement Only bodies corporate (i.e. not individuals) can apply for Community radio licenses
Holders of other broadcasting licenses
II d. International experiences on Type of license and service area
Countries Argentina Australia Categories Licenses defined on the basis of geographical reach Commercial, Community, Temporary community, Narrowcasting, International broadcasting, subscription, class, apparatus, transmitter, special events, Retransmission 7 categories of radio stations : Public, commercial, native, community, campus, digital, ethnic Licenses defined under the new convergence regime, and not based on geographies or usage but are based on Technologies used 5 categories of radio stations: public, commercial, community, village development committee, non-commercial Not defined geographically Licenses defined on the basis of usage and geographical reach Restriction on number of licenses on the basis of ownership rules
Nepal Philippines UK USA
The Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) is an independent non-profit research centre established in October, 2000. The Institute has established for itself a reputation for excellence in its research and advocacy work focusing on private sector development in Bangladesh. The Institute promotes issues of importance to the private sector and initiates essential measures to influence policy making for the development of a market-oriented economy. BEI hopes to address the enormous challenge that Bangladesh faces in securing a fair share of the global market. Since its inception, BEI has been working as a catalyst to foster the growth of private sector in Bangladesh. For details please visit www.bei-bd.org
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