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24 June, 2017 11:43:49 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 25 June, 2017 10:58:31 AM
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Draft Broadcast Act under scrutiny

DEEPAK ACHARJEE
Draft Broadcast Act under scrutiny

 After initiating the formulation of a Broadcast Act four years ago, the government is yet to finalise the draft Broadcast Act 2017, which also aims to regulate online media activities.Sources in the information ministry said the proposed act, once enacted, will be the main tool to regulate all broadcast activities. The information ministry said they have sent the draft act to the Cabinet Division two months ago for vetting through a committee on legal matters. But, the Cabinet Division is yet to finalise it, the ministry informed. When contacted, a high official of the Cabinet Division told The Independent that their committee were scrutinising the proposed Broadcast Act. “We found that some clauses of the proposed Broadcast Act are conflicting with the Bangladesh Cable Television Network Act 2006 and it should be scrutinised properly,” he said.

Secretary of the information ministry, Martuza Ahmed, said the proposed draft Act would be placed at the Cabinet meeting after obtaining clearance from the Cabinet Division body and the secretaries’ committee on administrative improvement affairs. He said they will control the online newspapers, online television, online radio and other online activities under the proposed Act. “We are also preparing an online act to control the online media sans the draft law,” he disclosed. According to the draft Act, a person may face a maximum penalty of seven years in jail or a fine of Tk. 5 crore, or both, if anyone runs a broadcast without prior permission or licence from the authorities concerned, the sources added. A high-ranking official of the information ministry said they have prepared the draft of the proposed Act in line with Western media broadcast laws like those governing the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). “We cannot control the electronic media as we lack proper laws and rules in this respect. We will be able to control the electronic and online media after enacting the draft law,” he said. “No one can run and air their electronic and online media—even the international broadcasting media, cable operator broadcast, IP broadcast, FM radio broadcast, audio text broadcast, video text broadcast, satellite television broadcast, free-to-air countrywide television broadcast, free-to-air area-based television broadcast, free-to-air international television broadcast, television at home and abroad—without taking licences from the authorities concerned,” he added. One can face a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment or a fine of Tk. 5 crore, or both, for violating Clause 19 of the proposed Act, which stipulates that no one can run any broadcast without prior permission of the Broadcast Commission. However, the offences under the proposed Act would be considered “non-cognisable” and “bailable”, and the court would not be able to take any case into cognisance without the approval of the ‘Broadcast Commission’. The proposed Act has 36 clauses.  According to the draft Act, a Broadcast Commission would be formed after the proposed law is enacted. The seven-member commission, headed by a chairman, must have at least one female member. The proposed commission would prepare a set of guidelines for the broadcasters and regularly monitor whether they are properly following the Broadcast Policy, the guidelines and the code of ethics. The commission would be empowered to frame guidelines for issuing licences to broadcasters. Sources said the authorities have initiated the preparation of a 38-member high-powered committee headed by former chairman of the Journalism department of Dhaka University, Prof. Dr Golam Rahman. On August 7, 2014, the information ministry published a gazette on the Broadcast Policy for television and radio.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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