TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman
TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman File photo

The government’s directive regarding the requirement of separate registration of online versions of newspapers and television channels is a blueprint to establish complete control over the media, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) said on Tuesday.

The anti-graft body also apprehended that this directive will hamper the free flow of information and right to opinion of the people.

TIB said this in a media release it issued today.

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The government on Monday approved the draft of the amended National Online Mass Media Policy, 2017 at a cabinet meeting.

According to the amended law, the e-paper versions of printed newspapers will not need any separate registration, but the online versions of newspapers will require registration if they are different from the print version.

TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said though the information ministry said that the order has been issued to bring registered media outlets under the government facilities and to curb yellow journalism, in actuality, this will ensure the institutionalisation of the government’s control over media

Separate registration will be required for the online news portals of television and radio channels too, it added.

The TIB media release said national broadcast commission and online news portals policy have not yet been finalised. Before that, the information ministry’s order to register all the online news portals, and the online versions of national newspapers and television channels will ensure the government’s intervention and control over them.

This order is a suicidal step towards implementing various government bodies ill-motivated long-cherished wishes to control media, it added.

TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said though the information ministry said that the order has been issued to bring registered media outlets under the government facilities and to curb yellow journalism, in actuality, this will ensure the institutionalisation of the government’s control over media.

This would not be an out of the context question that whether the order is for the sake of journalism or to take the government and various vested interest groups beyond criticism and accountability, he added.

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The media release further said that TIB sincerely hopes the information ministry will revoke soon its order for separate registration of online versions of national newspapers and television channels that has been running following all the existing laws.

It also hoped that the ministry would take steps to ensure the people’s constitutional rights regarding the free flow of information scrapping its reprehensible plan to control media.

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