Editors worried over media freedom

The Editors’ Council has expressed serious concern, saying it has become difficult for the press and the national media to work independently and in an unbiased manner.

“We have been observing with grave concern that it has become difficult for the press and the national media to work independently and in an impartial manner,” the council said in a resolution adopted at a meeting yesterday.

“On the one hand, journalists are coming under attacks and falling victim to violence perpetrated in the name of political programmes while discharging their professional duties, and on the other hand, attempts are being made to curb freedom of the press and media,” states the resolution, signed by the council’s General Secretary Mahfuz Anam.

“The government is interfering with the rights of the media. The government and the administration are obstructing collection and presentation of news in an independent and unbiased manner.

“At times, some newspapers or television channels are being unjustly branded as the mouthpieces of a particular party or group. Especially the reaction given in the Jatiya Sangsad over the publication of a photograph and a caption in The Daily Star recently is an expression of hostile attitude towards the media which is not expected from any government.

“Provocative statements against the editors and publishers have been made in parliament which threatens their safety. Several editors and publishers are already being harassed with false cases against them. Incident like harassment of journalists by police in the name of raid in the office of English daily the New Age has already occurred. We strongly condemn these above mentioned incidents.

“Besides, an environment of panic has been created by arresting owners of more than one TV channel. TV talk shows are also being interfered with in various ways. Some talk shows have already been stopped. The lists of guests on the talk shows are being specified. Interference is also being made in live programmes,” the council continued.

“We think telephone instructions on what can be aired and what can not also infringes on the right to freedom of expression. Some journalists are being barred from collecting news of different government programmes and party events. Placing the media and other groups as rival forces of the government and unnecessarily harassing them cannot be favourable to an independent media.

“We expect more responsible and cooperative behaviour from the government in upholding the freedom, objectivity and non-partisanship of all media, including newspapers,” the Editors’ Council said in its resolution.

Source: The Daily Star

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