||Community radio can give marginalised
people access to info: seminar
United News of Bangladesh • Dhaka
THE community radio network could give the marginalised
people of the country access to information and thus play immense role
in the development of particular communities, speakers at a daylong international
seminar said on Sunday.
They said the prospect of the community
radio was that it could give voice to the voiceless people, but the rules
and procedures of the licensing system should have provisions to ensure
that the ownership of the information really remain within the community.
Singapore-based Asian Media Information
and Communication Centre arranged the seminar in collaboration with United
News of Bangladesh, UNESCO and Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication
with the theme `Peoples Voices, Peoples Participation and Community Radio'
at the conference room of LIMB.
Information secretary Jamil Osman was the
chief guest at the inaugural session of the seminar, chaired by Syed Margub
Morshed, former chairperson of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory
Commission and also a former secretary of the government.
The inaugural session
was addressed, among others, by AMIC secretary general Indrajit Banerjee,
UNB chairman Amanullah Khan, UNESCO Bangladesh representative and director
Malama Maleisea and UNDP assistant country director KAM Morshed.
AMIC Head of Research Kalinga Seneviratne gave
the keynote address of the session, titled `Overview of Community Radio
across Asia: Opportunities and Challenges'. Speaking as chief guest, Information
Secretary Jamil Osman said the present caretaker government, as part of
its series of reforms, has formulated and announced the Community Radio
Policy on March 12.
The information ministry invited applications
from the organisations interested to obtain license to install, broadcast
and operateradios within specific communities, he said 'We've received
a huge response from our community stakeholders.'
A regulatory committee, a national' monitoring
committee and a technical sub-committee have been formed, the information
The committees, he said, would scrutinise
the applications arid select the successful applicants, provide guidance
to them for installation and broadcasting of community radios. and monitor
their operational activities.
Welcoming the government's decision to allow
community radio in the country, UNESCO director and representative Malama
Meleisea said the main focus of the community radio is access to information,
thus empowering the people, especially the marginalised ones.
'Subsequently, the focus of community radio
also lays on the control of information... Who is going to make all the
decisions...' he said. Meleisa said the actualownership of community radio
should not be left to the hands of the mainstream media owners. Rather,
the ownership should be given to the marginalized people of a particular
The seminar had three plenary sessions and
one panel discussion. The first plenary session titled `Mobilizing Communities
for Community Radio' was addressed by SM Shameem Reza, assistant professor
of Dhaka University and Vinaya Kasajoo, director of Centre for Media Rights
of Nepal, with M Rafiqul Alam, chairperson of BNNRC, in the chair.
UNDP assistant country director KAM Morshesd
described the three aspects of community radio network as its prospect
and challenge, and ensuring the licence to appropriate people.
He said the way the community radio network
was being implemented in Bangladesh and the initiatives the government
is taking in this regard should be viewed on a long-term perspective.
'The ownership of the information is really
critical... rules and procedures should be clarified... The current radio
licensing doesn't have provision of a cooperative society oriented ownership.'
Morshed called upon the government and the 'NGC•S
concerned in the locality to assist the simple people like farmers and
fishermen to really apply for the licence of community 'radio and get
the substantial assistance to get it.
`The move to open up the radio broadcast
media down to the community level represents a most significant development
in Bangladesh media landscape. It is hoped that the community radio will
help foster democracy and lead to empowerment of communities in Bangladesh,'
UNB chairperson Amanullah Khan told the session.
The process of democratization would be
strengthened if community radio could be harnessed to the services of
communities, he said, adding that the community radio would echo the people's
voices and ensure their participation in the community affairs.
Khan said, `New opportunities will now
be presented to explore radio broadcasting as a development tool and as
an aid to the realisation of, the poverty alleviation goal.'
He added: With the minimum investment
by thee broadcasters and the affordability of radio sets to the common
man in a country facing resources constraints like Bangladesh, community
radio offers the highest return in terms of access to information and
the motivational and inspirational values to the listeners majority of
whom happen to be unlettered.'
Wrapping up the opening session of the
seminar, former BTRC chairperson Syed Margub Morshed said community radio
network was an empowering device and its contents could bear the people's
right to being informed.
`The device can empower the people. It
can preserve the local identities. It conserves the cultural diversities
and pluralism,' he said, adding that the community radio enhances democracy
and transparency, and strengthen the people's right.
Chaired by head of research of Asian Media
Information and Communication Centre Kalinga Seneviratne, the second plenary
session on `How to Make Community Radio popular’ was addressed by
station manager of Radio Sagamata of Nepal Ghamaraj Luintel.
The third plenary session titled `Radio,
Internet and digital Technology Connecting Communities' was addressed
by Kapila Damage, community radio consultant from Sri Lanka, with Seneviratne
in the chair.
The panel discussion titled `Voices, People's
participation and Community Radio' was addressed by CMR director Vinay
Kasajoo, Brian Shoesmith, director of school of social sciences, University
of Liberal Arts, Bangladesh, and Sri lankan community media consultant
Kapila Gamage. Deputy director (liaison and research) of Bangladesh Betar
Faroha Suhrawardy presided over the session.