The government on Thursday asked private television channels to project ‘normalcy prevailing in the country’ during the nationwide blockade called by Bangladesh Nationalist Party led opposition alliance.
The instruction was given at a meeting with owners and heads of news of private television channels at the secretariat with information minister Hasanul Haq Inu in the chair.
Several ministers claimed that the country’s situation was normal and the media should focus that.
Owners and heads of news of private television channels reached a consensus that what was going on in the country was not politics or political movement but were rather ‘terrorism and acts of sabotage.’
Industries minister Amir Hossain Amu, commerce minister Tofail Ahmed, water resources minister Anisul Islam Mahmud and state minister for home affairs Asaduzzaman Khan, among others, attended the meeting.
‘The topic of the today’s discussion was what role the electronic media should play in the wake of the evolved political situation,’ the Association of Television Channel Owners vice-president Anjan Chowdhury, also managing director of Maasranga television, told a media briefing after the meeting.
He claimed the ministers have encouraged them to project the truth. ‘The question whether what is going on in the country is a political movement or sabotage was discussed in the meeting. We have all agreed that what we see today are acts of sabotage and terrorism.’
‘And we have agreed that we will not sensationalise the acts of sabotage and we will not do what will harm the country.’
Industries minister said people were not getting the true picture of what was happening in the country. ‘For all practical purposes, the country’s situation is normal. Normalcy is prevailing everywhere, including in trade, commerce and export. But people are not aware of this. This should be projected.’
‘One or two incidents of arson attack on buses or trucks are shown in the TV in such a manner that as if the entire country is now in an abnormal situation,’ he added.
‘We want to let people know that a normal situation is prevailing in the country. They [television channel’s heads of news] were also not aware of many things. We have apprised them of the situation with proof and they are convinced,’ the minister added.
The minister, however, admitted the acts of sabotage and terrorism have created a sense of insecurity among the people.
He said the government cannot be ‘changed through acts of sabotage and terrorism’.
Asked whether the government was carrying out a form of censorship on the media, the minister denied. ‘We have not given any instructions to them. Rather we have reached a consensus through discussion.’
Speaking on the occasion, the commerce minister said, ‘actually, a normal situation is prevailing in the country barring some terrorist activities. These will have to be projected through the media.’
Television channel Ekattur’s chief editor Mozammel Haque Babu said they have reached a consensus that the TV channels, with its significant leverage, would play the ‘strongest role to ending the ongoing acts of sabotage, standing by the side of the government.’
‘We will work together to unite the people against the sabotage,’ he added.
Inu said the government has sought cooperation from the electronic media to resist vandalism, sabotage and terrorism.
At the beginning of the meeting, the information secretary asked the TV channels not to air old stories on violence. ‘You do not need to broadcast yesterday’s incident of violence today.’
The meeting also discussed how to bring an end to the dominance of Indian channels in Bangladesh as the cable operators prefer to broadcast Indian channels.
Source: New Age