Opposition rises against TV delinking from OTT platforms 

Amidst growing concerns over the government's decision to delink televisions from internet-based over-the-top (OTT) platforms, a seminar organized by the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Consumer Association (BMPCA) witnessed strong opposition from key stakeholders.  

Bikarna Kumar Ghosh, former managing director of Bangladesh Hi-tech Park Authority, asserted during the seminar that stripping televisions of their link to OTT platforms infringes upon individuals' right to access information. Ghosh emphasized that in today's digital age, where internet access is considered a fundamental right, people have grown accustomed to consuming television content via OTT platforms. He stated unequivocally that any endeavour to impede this digital pathway is unwarranted and unacceptable.

The suspension of television links to Bangladesh's three prominent OTT platforms—Bioscope, Toffee, and Bongo—on 2 April prompted Ghosh to urge the government to reinstate television programs on these platforms. His sentiments were echoed by Emdadul Hoque, President of the Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB), who highlighted the inconsistency in allowing foreign platforms like Amazon and Netflix to operate freely while imposing restrictions on local platforms.

Hoque cautioned that stringent surveillance on local OTT platforms could inadvertently facilitate money laundering activities, thereby disadvantaging local businesses and fostering dominance by foreign entities.

Khalid Abu Naser, former director of the Bangladesh Competition Commission, provided insights into the global landscape of OTT platforms, emphasizing their exponential growth trajectory. He underscored that any attempt to curtail local OTT platforms contradicts competition laws, especially considering the burgeoning market potential projected for Bangladesh.

Mohiuddin Ahmed, President of BMPCA, reiterated the significant role played by OTT platforms in connecting over 30 million internet users for entertainment and informative purposes. He criticized the imposition of conditions on local OTT platforms, particularly in light of the substantial revenue generated by foreign platforms such as Facebook and YouTube through live streaming.

The collective voice emerging from the seminar underscores a unified stance against the delinking of televisions from OTT platforms, citing fundamental rights, economic implications, and global market dynamics as compelling reasons to reconsider the government's decision.