The free flow of information and its sharing are the basic element of modern democracy. It plays a special role in increasing public awareness and making the right decisions. In the nineties, the then ruling Awami League added a new dimension to the media. With the help from the public TV channel BTV, the private TV channel Ekushey started airing programs. In continuation of this initiative, some new TV channels started functioning with the aim of reaching the doorsteps of people. As a result, the electronic media expanded widely in this country. There are 31 public and private TV channels at present in Bangladesh.
One of the main types of broadcast media in Bangladesh is TV, namely "Bangladesh Television". Bangladesh Television is the only terrestrial channel in the country and serves as an effective means of communication to the population. Several satellite TV stations have also made headway in Bangladesh. Their programmes are mainly aimed at Bangla-speaking individuals and airing programmes that the entire family can enjoy. The importance of this country has increased greatly due to these electronic media in dissemination of information. Presently, these TV channels play a special role in highlighting needs of the country. At the same time, they are making significant contribution to raising public awareness. Due to these TV channels, the people of the country can see the latest information and images within a moment, including the pictorial report of national and international events.
The TV channels of the country are keeping pace with the world to highlight own culture and tradition and the progress in life and livelihood of the people across the world. On the other hand, in this era of information technology, the electronic media is expanding in the country despite facing various obstacles. The TV channels in the country were set up to provide information. But due to monetary motive of almost all TV channels' cable operators, except government and some private TV channels, they are facing a big hurdle to expansion. Many people think free flow of information creates an obstacle to development of the native culture. As a result, entrepreneurs are financially losers, whereas the people are deprived of local information services. But the cable operators in this country should have been able to take the country's information services to the doorsteps of the people through broadcast of all channels and extend the cooperation to help improve the living standards of the people. In the absence of right policies, the cable operators are more inclined to offer foreign channels, except those local channels which are not undesirable. As a result, the people of this country are lagging behind and are becoming more addicted to foreign channels. Thus foreign films and foreign cultural events are getting the viewership here.
We are losing the succession of cultural heritage, including social values, original relations of men and women, by watching the TV channels of different countries. In this sphere of foreign culture in the name of information service, we are more inclined to consumer culture than the ancestral culture and literature. This is now dragging the young generation toward sexual and various other crime-oriented values. This trend has already reached villages due to the easy viewership of foreign channels thanks to the cable operators. It has a terrible impact on human values. As a result, the degradation of values is becoming a normal phenomenon. Families are breaking up. Husbands and wives are separating. People are getting lonely.
It is more important to formulate a policy to force the cable operators to offer all channels to their clients in order to promote the country, its culture, soil, humanity and the past tradition. Cable operators can take steps to broadcast foreign programs in the country after the broadcast of programs of all local channels.
In this case, local TV channels also will have to take steps to air more quality programs than the foreign channels do. Domestic TV channels will have to stop advertising excessively, because the audience loses the interest. The intervention of the concerned authorities is necessary to reverse it.
Above all, domestic TV channels need to be more responsible in order to work independently and for overall development of the country and the life and livelihood of the people. Recreational education for children should be arranged in Bangla or English for fun activities and there should be cartoon channels. If the local channels can expand the viewership through cable operators under precise policies, the country can be protected from the aggression of foreign TV channels. In this case, TV channel entrepreneurs have to play an active role in broadcasting good programs catering to the taste of the local audience.
We hope a policy will be adopted for private TV channels based on opinions from all concerned. The local TV channels should come forward to showcase the country's culture and heritage and the cable operators should support them by representing them properly.
The writer is Head Public Relations Officer of BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology
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