Policy to control online media too

Mostaque Ahmed | Update:

The government is now coming up with rules and restrictions for online media, much on the lines of the recent broadcasting policy. The online media policy will also prohibit reports and write-ups that mock or demean persons of the armed forces or law enforcement agencies. No information can be published about incidents involving politically motivated rebellion, anarchy and such harmful activities.

A draft of the National Online Media Policy 2014 has been prepared. Under this policy, online media will require licence from the government. A commission will be formed to oversee the online media. As in the case of the broadcasting media, the government retains the authority to take action against the online media and no date has been specified for the formation of the commission.

The policy maintains that no secret information of the government or military that can pose as a threat to state security can be published. Revealing of any person's confidential matters, character assignation and misleading news is not permitted. It will be compulsory to publish government-approved matters of national importance, according to the draft policy.

Information Ministry officials say that in face of wide criticism of the broadcasting policy, they are going a bit slow with the online policy.

Information Minister Hasanul Huq Inu yesterday told Prothom Alo that the draft had been submitted but he hadn't perused the contents as yet. A committee would be formed in this regard.

According to the draft of the policy, the online media must uphold the spirit of the Liberation War, the fundamental pillars of state, and the state ideology of Bangladesh.

Nothing that can harm Bangladesh's relations with other countries or that berates friendly countries, can be published. All religious sentiments must be respected. Reports should promote development and voluntary activities. The online media must be used to inspire the people towards self-reliance through reports on agricultural development and education.

Advertisements: Advertisements in the online media cannot hurt political or religious sentiments. They cannot provoke bad relations with friendly countries. The advertised products must have standard control certification. Advertisements cannot depict structures of national significance such as the Sangsad Bhaban, the President's office and Prime Minister's office, the courts, the cantonment, Shahid Minar, the National Mausoleum and such.

Online Commission: An online media commission is to be formed, according to the draft policy. This will be a constitutional body headed by a chairman.

Incidentally, India has one common policy to cover newspapers, online media, television and radio. Pakistan has one for the newspapers and online media and another for television and radio.

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